Tunisia defender Talbi Montassar says the Carthage Eagles still have to ‘finish the job’ against Mali, as they prepare for the return leg of their World Cup play-off in Rades on Tuesday.
Tunisia have a 1-0 advantage from the first leg after Mali’s Moussa Sissako struck into his own net to give the visitors a precious away goal.
On a day to forget, Sissako was later sent off for a foul which means he is out of Mali’s line-up for Tuesday’s second leg, with Tunisia well-placed to reach Qatar.
“We are very proud but we are also staying focused because we are aware that we haven’t finished the job yet,” Tunisia centre-back Montassar said ahead of their decider.
Tunisia’s victory over Mali avenged their 1-0 defeat at the recent Africa Cup of Nations which came in controversial circumstances, when Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe signalled for full-time on 85 minutes, before then ending the match before the clock showed 90 minutes.
“It was a difficult game on Friday against a very good Mali team,” Montassar said.
“We had a positive result but we also know that Mali is a dangerous team when they play away from home so we have to stay focused.
“We’ll try to do a great game at home on Tuesday to bring back the qualification”.
Mali, who are seeking their first ever place at a World Cup, enjoyed an impressive run in the group stages of the qualifiers where they went unbeaten, claiming five wins and one draw to finish top of Group E.
Tunisia are aiming for their second consecutive appearance at football’s global showpiece event, having played at Russia 2018.
If they qualify for Qatar, they will equal Nigeria’s record for the second-most World Cup appearances by an African nation with six.