Gettyimages Former Dundee defender Bilel Mohsni has slammed Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul for snubbing him from the final World Cup squad
With Tunisia now focused on Monday’s Group G opener against England, Mohsni has launched a scathing attack on Maaloul, branding his omission as “injustice,” after initially making it into the provisional squad.
Maaloul sacrificed Mohsni for other center backs Ellyes Skhiri, Yassine Meriah, Syam Ben Youssef and Leicester City’s Yohan Benalouane,
Scottish publication Daily Record reported this angry Mohsni interview.
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“The problem was the coach just didn’t give me my chance. We had two friendlies – for one I was on the bench against Portugal and for the other I was in the stand against Turkey,” Mohsni said.
“He knew if I got the chance he wouldn’t be able to take me out of the team. I saw it with my own eyes. There were lots of funny things going on. I knew from the second week there, that it wasn’t going to happen.”
The 30-year-old Paris-born defender appeared incensed by the inclusion of local-based players, with 24-year-old CS Sfaxien defender Meriah one of his direct challengers for a place in the team.
Although the Tunisian squad is comprised of a number of foreign-based players and others born in Europe, Mohsni sensationally accused local top clubs of influencing team selection.
“It’s because I wasn’t born in Tunisia and am not a fan of one of the big four clubs in the country. Those clubs have a lot of power in the national team. Nobody helped me get to where I am now in my career,” he said.
In his anger, he claimed the snub cost him the opportunity of moving to some European big leagues.
“Teams in France and the Bundesliga in Germany told me they would sign me if I got to the 23-man squad for the World Cup. But it all changed because I didn’t get there,” he said.
Mohsni pointed to non-footballing reasons being at play in his dropping. He feels he is currently the best Tunisian defender and nothing warranted his omission.
“It was my dream to be at the World Cup but I just knew I wasn’t going to make it. It had nothing to do with football. I am the best defender in Tunisia for sure. I played 14 games in two months for Dundee United but the coach said I wasn’t ready,” said Mohsni.
“Yet, there was one guy picked who only played one first-team game in a whole year. That is injustice. Tell me – who is match fit or not? Someone who has played a lot of competitive matches recently or someone else who has just played once.
“When I arrived at the international camp I was full of confidence and even scoring goals. After each training session we played 11 versus 11 and I won most of those games. All of the players knew I was the best defender there.
“They obviously couldn’t speak out but knew I should have been in the 23-man squad at least. They were so shocked. How come I hadn’t played for so long before going to Dundee United but was still better than them?
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“We were doing 15-second sprints and I was finishing them in 10 seconds. They were just looking at me and thinking, ‘Wow’.
“Now I just need to pick myself up and get my career going again. I know I can play at a high level so I have to just get over this disappointment."
Tunisia will be among other four African teams bidding to at least reach the semifinals in Russia.