The road to anywhere World Cup Finals is long and winding. Littered with potential pitfalls and upheavals, countries sometimes need a bit of luck to ensure they are among the lucky 32.
Newly unearthed footage shows how Tunisia reached the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and it’s fair to say they got there with a hint of good fortune.
The North African nation had to go through two CAF qualifying rounds to get there, first managing to top Group B (ahead of Zambia), before beating Mali in an ‘all or nothing’ playoff.
With the winner guaranteed a World Cup spot, the pressure was on – and it seemed to get the better of some Malian defenders.
In the end, only one goal was scored over the two legs, which you can watch below. Moussa Sissako, look away now:
An own goal scored by the Sochi defender in the first leg proved enough for Tunisia, who earned a hard-fought 0-0 draw in the second leg.
It was an abysmal draw for Sissako, who then received a red card in the second half for a desperate last-ditch foul.
While the goal and red card heartbreakingly prevented Mali from playing in their first-ever World Cup, some Twitter users couldn’t help but see the fun side after footage of his own goal surfaced. been shared on social media.
One user wrote, “the keeper could have done better”, while another simply added, “no way!”.
However, alongside the humorous nature of the own goal, the clip also reignited the conversation about how African teams qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
Unlike in Europe and South America, group winners do not qualify automatically, as they still have to go through an arduous two-leg elimination match. This format saw Nigeria, Mali and Egypt all fail to qualify in the final hurdle, despite performing so well in the previous round.
A disgruntled football fan added on Twitter: “I absolutely despise the current format of African teams.”
A second user replied, “The old one was better but the problem is more seeding than anything else.
“Looking back, you remove the two-man qualifier but then you get a group with, for example, Egypt/Algeria/Mali all inside.”
As for Tunisia, they got off to an impressive start in Qatar, earning a more than respectable draw with Denmark on matchday one. However, a 1-0 loss to Australia at the weekend leaves Hannibal Mejbri and his team-mates on the brink of elimination – with only France to play.