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World Cup

No 4: Tunisia claim first ever World Cup win by an Arab nation

African nation create history on their debut at Argentina 78

No 4: Tunisia claim first ever World Cup win by an Arab nation

No African or Arab nation had won a World Cup match before Tunisia made their tournament debut at Argentina 78 on June 2, 1978.

Ninety minutes later both records had gone.

Tunisia’s 3-1 win against Mexico at Estadio Gigante de Arroyito in Rosario remains the country’s finest performance to date.

The first half had not gone according to plan for Tunisia. Unsurprising, given potential first-day nerves and the fact that Mexico were firm favourites to get off the a mark with a win.

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At half time, the Tunisians trailed to Arturo Vasquez Ayala’s penalty, and Abdelmajid Chetali needed to re-instill in his team the confidence that had seen them qualify to their first World Cup in spectacular fashion.

And how he did that. Tunisia were on fire in the second half.

Tarak Dhiab, who would go on to make name for himself in Argentina, was everywhere, running the opposition midfield ragged. The Mexicans simply couldn’t live with Tunisia’s exciting brand of fast counterattacking football.

Goals by Ali Kaabi (55), Nejib Ghommidh (79) and Mokhtar Dhouieb (87) sent shockwaves around the world and left Mexico utterly humiliated. They would never recover, and left Argentina after three defeats.

Tunisia’s odyssey went the distance, a draw against world champions West Germany proving just short of qualification to the last eight.

The win against Mexico had done enough ensure immortality for Chetali and his men.

 

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