‘Real football’: Dubai Ruler says Tunisian World Cup team made Arabs proud

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid says region’s teams have made a ‘distinctive imprint’ – and thrilled fans along the way

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid has praised Tunisia’s performance at the World Cup, saying the team made Arabs proud.

The Vice President and Ruler of Dubai said watching the Carthage Eagles was “real football”.

Tunisia defeated France 1-0 in Qatar on Wednesday night but did not score enough points to progress to the second round.

The defeat was profound for France who are fourth in Fifa’s current world rankings and won the World Cup 2018 in Russia.

“An Arab victory and a distinctive imprint on the World Cup,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote on Twitter.

Tunisia – ranked 30th by Fifa – will return home to a heroes’ welcome.

In Tunis, fans celebrated late into the night.

“I felt as if we got our revenge for 75 years of colonialism,” said law student Sarah Abdel Majid, 26, at a cafe in the Tunis neighbourhood of L’Aouina.

Dubai Ruler says Tunisian World Cup team made Arabs proud
AL WAKRAH, QATAR – NOVEMBER 30: Aymen Dahmen of Tunisia in action during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Australia and Denmark at Al Janoub Stadium on November 30, 2022 in Al Wakrah, Qatar. (Photo by Hannah Mckay – Pool/Getty Images)

“We beat the world champion, so it’s fine if we did not go through to the next round,” she added, tears of joy streaming down her face.

Saudi Arabia and Mexico both crashed out of the World Cup on Wednesday night – but entertained spectators with an at times wild back and forth play.

The Green Falcons’ Salem Aldawsari scored in the 95th minute, after two goals from Mexico early in the second half, to make the score 2-1 by the final whistle.

“This game is officially bananas,” wrote The Athletic’s Felipe Cárdenas.

Saudi Arabia’s performance has captivated the Gulf and sent the Kingdom football-mad.

For Mexico, supported by thousands of fans who made the 13,000km journey to Qatar, it is the first time in 44 years that the El Tri have not progressed to the second round.

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