Coach believes Tunisian revolution has set players free

By Matthew KenyonBBC Sport, Tunisia
Tunisiah coach Sami Trabelsi
Sami Trabelsi believes Tunisia's political revolution has freed the 'character, mentality and objectives' of his players

Tunisia coach Sami Trabelsi believes the country's political revolution will transform the fortunes of his side.

The Carthage Eagles have struggled in the five-team Group K so far, where they lie third at the halfway stage.

League football was suspended for several months but Trabelsi believes the upheavals will have a positive effect when they host Chad on Sunday.

"This squad has a different character, mentality and objectives since the revolution - they are free," he said.

"For two or three months we didn't do anything and the players didn't have any games, but this revolution has done some good things for the national team."

Trabelsi took over in March, shortly after the ousting of former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

And he is hoping that the success of Tunisia's locally-based players, whom he led to the African Nations Championship (Chan) title in February, will lift the senior team.

"Since the Chan, we started to get a new group [of players] with other ideas and more responsibility," Trabelsi told the BBC's African sports programme Fast Track.

"We hope now that we have some advantages with the group, to do a better job than before."

The Carthage Eagles were beaten at home by Botswana in their first game in the group and Trabelsi believes the early start for this five-team pool damaged their chances.

Paul Scholes (left) and Tunisia's Sami Trabelsi
Trabelsi captained Tunisia at the 1998 World Cup finals in France

They also lost to the now-qualified Zebras when playing in Gabarone in November, but the coach is confident that the side have turned a corner and can win their remaining three games.

After playing Chad in Sousse on Sunday, they travel to Malawi before hosting Togo on the final day as they try to secure qualification for Equatorial Guinea and Gabon 2012.

Despite his optimism, the former national captain does acknowledge that the turmoil in his country has had some ill effects.

Following the league's lengthy suspension, a large number of club games have been played in a short space of time in a bid to catch up.

"The players have played six or seven games in 21 days before the friendly against Central African Republic - we are afraid physically for the players," he said.

"Chad play a strong game, they have physical players [and] they don't have pressure - they're not going to qualifiy for the Africa Cup of Nations - I think we must concentrate more."

With Botswana having already qualified from Group K, Malawi (nine points), Tunisia (seven) and Togo (three) are battling for the runners-up spot that will guarantee a Nations Cup appearance.

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