Hosni Manoubi has carefully packed his jacket made in Tunisian colours : he had saved for two years to attend this very World Cup, a rare enthusiasm given to the country’s football history .
Tunisia became the first African team to win a World Cup match in 1978 , 3-1 against Mexico,and ever since not a match has been won at this level despite participating in 1998, 2002 and 2006.
“The first memory that comes to mind is the Tunisia-Guinea (qualifying group) match in Guinea with a score of 4-1 (for Tunisia). So it was of great joy. The locker room was on fire. At that moment the World Cup began,” said Hosni Manoubi.
Forty years after Tunisia’s only World Cup feat, the national team is yet to win over the hearts of Tunisian football fans, who are now committed to the cause of the country’s major clubs than their national team.
“For there to be fervor there must be a feat in this World Cup. Especially the first game against England. And I assure you, if we play a great game against England. We will see in the streets thousands of people with the Tunisian flag,” says Walid Mechri, a sports columnist.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, 4,500 Tunisians bought tickets to go to Russia out of a population estimated at 11.5 million people.
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