Posted on January 15, 2018

Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) organised on Monday a press conference for Nabil Maâloul, Head Coach of the Tunisian national football team.

He was joined by goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi, the team’s captain, Aspire Zone’s Chief Marketing Officer Mohammed Mubarak Al-Kuwari, and Mr. Ibrahim Hilal, Head of Federations and Clubs Events. The press conference took place on the sidelines of the team’s winter training camp at Aspire Zone Foundation, which aims to prepare the team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. Tunisia qualified for world’s most anticipated football tournament after a 12-year absence. At the press conference, head coach Nabil Maâloul spoke highly of their training camp facilities at Aspire Zone, and said: “This isn’t our first time in Aspire, we’ve entered a previous training camp in 2013.”

Talking about Tunisia’s ambition in Russia, he said: “With the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ five months away, our purpose is to make sure we put on an honourable performance that will make Tunisians and all Arabs proud, that’s our goal. To do that, we need to change the mentality of the players and equip them with a professional attitude to prepare them emotionally for the competition. We have the Tunisian team’s best interest at heart, and we choose what we think is the best for them.”

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He added: “We’re fortunate to have been given the opportunity from Aspire Zone and the Tunisian Football Federation to come here for training. The training camp has been successful on all levels. It’s great to be able to have access to such world-class facilities, and medical and hospitality services that are perfectly placed in one place. Aspire Zone has provided us with everything we need, and the training was made even better thanks to the amazing weather. The facilities in Aspire Zone are unlike any other in the world, and it is one of the best in the entire world. We’re very happy with the support we’ve received from the people in Qatar, and particularly the Tunisian residents who were keen to attend our training session for support.”

The Tunisian team has been drawn with tough teams in the group-stages, particularly England and Belgium. Having failed to qualify for the second round after the group-stages in their four previous World Cup finals appearances, coach Maâloul acknowledges the difficult task ahead, saying: “Yes we have tough teams to compete against in the group-stages, the English national football team has very decorated players, including the likes of Sterling and Harry Kane, and the Belgian team will also be tough get through, because they have a more offensive style of play than the English team, and they focus on individual skills as well. But we’ll be ready. We have good players and we’re preparing very hard to increase our chance of advancing [beyond the group-stages], and we’re confident that everyone will do their best. We are constantly contacting various regional and European clubs to get some of the other Tunisian players to join the team.”

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When asked to give his opinion on the performance of Qatar’s youth football team, who are currently competing at the 2018 the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship, Maâloul, said: “The Olympic national team’s excellent run at the AFC-U23 championship [having topped their group-stage with three wins against Uzbekistan, Oman and China] was made possible because the youth team has been practicing and entering training camps together for years, so they’re more accustomed to each other’s style of play. Their coach is also doing a great job. The team has some very key players, and 80% of them are expected to be seen representing Qatar at the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™.”

Aspire Zone’s Mohammed Mubarak Al-Kuwari, Chief Marketing Officer at AZF, also said: “We’re honoured to have the Tunisian national team train here at Aspire, and we congratulate them on their 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualification. This training camp shortly follows the recently concluded training camps for FC Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, who have returned to Aspire Zone during the winter break for many years. Aspire Zone is proud to house various elite training camps each year in line with their mission to elevate sports in Qatar and become the Reference in Sports Excellence Worldwide by 2020.”

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi and Captain of the Tunisian national team, said: “We’ve been in Doha for 15 days and everyone’s been very pleased with our time here. We’re currently focusing on honing our technical skills and get the necessary medical assessments completed to ensure we’re as fit as we can be.”