Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri said his heart sunk as the referee was called over to consult the Var screen on Tuesday, in the closing stages of their opening World Cup clash against Denmark, with the possibility of a penalty being awarded against his team.
But Mexican referee Cesar Ramos bucked the usual inclination to change his call after consulting the screen and stuck with his decision to turn down Denmark’s stoppage-time penalty appeal, much to the relief of the north Africans.
It ensured a goalless draw in the opening Group D clash and a valuable point in their quest to qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time in six attempts.
"I can’t put into words my feelings at that moment but you can imagine it well. I thought we would get that penalty given against us and the Var has every right to intervene," he told a news conference.
"But today it was in our favour and this is what football is all about. VAR decisions have to be respected."
Tunisia World Cup 2022 squad
Goalkeepers: Aymen Dahmen (CS Sfaxien), Bechir Ben Said (US Monastir), Mouez Hassen (Club Africain), Aymen Mathlouthi (Etoile Sahel)
Defenders: Ali Abdi (Caen), Dylan Bronn (Salernitana), Mohamed Drager (FC Luzern), Nader Ghandri (Club Africain), Bilel Ifa (Kuwait SC), Wajdi Kechrida (Atromitos), Ali Maaloul (Al Ahly), Yassine Meriah (Esperance), Montassar Talbi (Lorient)
Midfielders: Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, Ghaylane Chaalali (both Esperance), Aissa Laidouni (Ferencvaros), Hannibal Mejbri (Birmingham City), Ferjani Sassi (Al Duhail), Elyas Skhiri (FC Cologne)
Forwards: Anis Ben Slimane (Brondby), Seifeddine Jaziri (Zamalek), Issam Jebali (Odense), Wahbi Khazri (Montpellier), Taha Yassine Khenissi (Kuwait SC), Youssef Msakni (Al Arabi), Naim Sliti (Al Ittifaq).
Who are the star names in the squad?
As Tunisia team captain, Youssef Msakni, who plays for Al-Arabi in Qatar, has won 83 caps so far.
Hannibal Mejbri made his World Cup debut against Denmark on Tuesday having started in Tunisia’s only warm-up match on Wednesday.
Cologne midfielder Ellyes Skhiri features in the Tunisia squad, having secured 45 caps and three goals since making his international debut in 2018.
Another favourite is the former Sunderland and Saint-Etienne forward Wahbi Khazri, who is now at Ligue 1 club Montpellier, and Manchester United teenager Hannibal Mejbri, who is currently on loan to Birmingham City.
What has Tunisia's form been like?
With four managers since the last World Cup, Tunisia were sorely hoping their internal upheaval will not affect performances on the pitch.
Now coached by Jalel Kadri, after replacing Mondher Kebaier who was fighting Covid, the team qualified for a second consecutive World Cup – but may be out of their depth.
They finished top of Group B in the second round of African qualifying and reached Qatar 2022 through a two-legged play-off with Mali.
Tunisia's recent international matches have seen wins over Chile, Japan and Comoros. However, their World Cup group is among the toughest of all.
What are Tunisia's fixtures?
What is Tunisia's World Cup record?
This is Tunisia's sixth appearance at the World Cup. They made their debut in 1978, before qualifying three times in a row in 1998, 2002 and 2006.
Their most recent outing was in 2018, when Tunisia were eliminated in the group phase after losing to England and Belgium.
Argentina | Australia | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon | Canada | Costa Rica | Croatia | Denmark | Ecuador | England | France | Germany | Ghana | Iran | Japan | Mexico | Morocco | Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Senegal | Serbia | South Korea | Spain | Switzerland | Tunisia | Uruguay | USA | Wales
Tunisia are currently a best price of 750/1 to win the World Cup 2022.