Msakni back as Alain Giresse names first Tunisia squad

Former France international Alain Giresse
Alain Giresse won the 1984 Uefa European Championship with France and has also managed Mali, Gabon and Senegal

Alain Giresse has named his first squad as Tunisia coach and says 80-90% of the players selected will represent their country at this year's Africa Cup of Nations.

The Frenchman took over in December after Faouzi Benzarti was dismissed just four days after helping the team qualify for the tournament in Egypt.

The 26-man squad sees forward Youssef Msakni return for the first time since he injured knee ligaments last April, something that saw him miss the 2018 World Cup.

Iconic goalkeeper Moez Hassen is also back after a shoulder injury against England cut short his World Cup campaign in Russia.

"We must take into consideration what Msakni represents to the national team," Giresse told BBC Sport ahead of the final Group J qualifier against eSwatini on 22 March.

"He suffered a serious injury, but has now recovered. We must give him the opportunity to get back up to speed and know that the team is expecting great things from him," the 66-year-old added.

Tunisia secured their place at the Cup of Nations after a 2-1 victory against Niger last October.

Group J after five matches:
Tunisia12 points (qualified)
Egypt12 points (qualified)
Niger4 points (eliminated)
eSwatini1 points (eliminated)

"This is a preliminary list, but 80-90% of the players on it will be representing Tunisia at the Cup of Nations," Giresse said.

"I cannot give an exact percentage. It's up to the players to give their best performance and show determination that they want to be representing their team at the AFCON."

The other match in Group J sees Niger host Egypt.

Tunisia squad:

Goalkeepers: Farouk Ben Mustapha, Moez Hassan, Ayman Mathlouthi

Defenders: Wajdi Kechrida, Mohamed Drager, Larry Azzouni, Rami Bedoui, Yessine Meriah, Syam Ben Youssef, Dylan Bronn, Ali Maaloul, Oussama Haddadi

Midfielders: Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, Elyess Skhiri, Aymen Ben Mohamed, Ferjeni Sassi, Bilel Saidani

Strikers: Naim Sliti, Anice Badri, Seifeddine Khaoui, Bassem Srarfi, Wahbi Khazri, Taha Yassine Khnissi, Youssef Msakni, Firas Chouat, Yessine Chamakhi