Tunisia coach Maaloul targets World Cup opener against England

Gareth Southgate: 'England cannot simply write off 2018 World Cup'

England also face Panama in a potential banana skin, with Tunisia completing Group G.

"So, I like the fact that's been shared and I think it's important for us, especially with the younger groups, that they get a feel of that and that they get a feel of responsibility".

Their first fixture is against Tunisia on June 18, with Panama next and the mighty Belgians 10 days after the opener.

"It's the World Cup, we have a challenging draw, lots of travelling". Dier is a certainty for the defensive midfield role while going forward, Adam Lallana, Sterling, Kane, Marcus Rashford and Dele Alli give England genuine attacking threat. We know it's probably the best side Belgium has ever had, and we know the quality they have.

"In many ways when you go into the World Cup the teams that are the favourites are the nations which have won the World Cup before, there is a psychological level that you have to achieve in order to have that".

"They're the top seeds in the group, but a really good challenge for us". They have talented players.


"It was a brilliant occasion so to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup, I am hugely proud".

"Now it is just down to us to repay the faith that he has put into us".

France, Australia, Peru and Denmark make up Group C, with Group D perhaps the closest to a so-called "group of death" as it contains Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria. "The average age of this Tunisian squad is 26 and despite meeting England, we have a great chance of reaching the second round".

"We've got six days of rest after our first game, which if they are anxious about travel, that shouldn't be an issue".

"Tunisia and Panama, we have to do more research on", he said.

Tunisia have never reached the knock-out stage of a World Cup, having failed in 1978, 1998, 2002 and 2006.

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