In their World Cup debut against one of the pre-tournament underdogs, Tunisia held Denmark to a scoreless draw on Tuesday. Tunisia thus started their Group D campaign with a good performance.
Five previous efforts at the World Cup have failed to advance Tunisia to the knockout stages, but Jalel Kadri’s team will be inspired by their performance against the highly anticipated Danes and by earning a point at Education City Stadium.
Since Kadri became the team’s manager in January, Tunisia has only suffered defeats against Brazil and Denmark in front of a boisterous crowd of thousands of North Africans.
Christian Eriksen, who nearly lost his life on the field at the European Championship last year after wilting in the face of fierce defense, was mostly unnoticed upon his return to major tournament play.
Denmark had been the favorite going into the game, but Tunisia tore into their more famed opponents from the get-go, rushing into tackles.
Every tackle and clearing received loud applause from the throngs of Tunisians cheering in the stands.
Mohamed Drager’s long-range attempt, which clipped off Andreas Christensen and drifted just wide in the 11th minute, gave the African team a close call at taking the lead.
The Tunisian backline was well-organized, and although the Danes went into dangerous situations, any attacks were easily thwarted. The Danes started to gain control of the game, but talisman Eriksen struggled to escape their attention.
Anis Ben Slimane, a Copenhagen native, strayed offside before slipping the ball past Kasper Schmeichel to give the Tunisians the best chance to take the lead in the opening period. Schmeichel, however, produced a fantastic save to keep the scores tied at the half.
Issam Jebali was successful in getting past Youssef Msakni to receive his shrewd ball, but Schmeichel superbly deflected his dinked attempt away.
Although Tunisia continued to play hard, Denmark had the two best opportunities in a close second half.
In the 69th minute, Aymen Dahmen’s fingertip stop denied Eriksen what would have been a great goal, and from the next corner, replacement Andreas Cornelius somehow managed to head into the post from close range.
Due to Tunisia’s inability to match Denmark’s muscular efforts with meaningful innovation, Denmark would have likely won the match as a result.
With their fervent followers, they celebrated a priceless and unexpected point after escaping a late penalty scare.