Alain Giresse: Wahbi Khazri and Youssef Msakni to boost Tunisia at Afcon

The Carthage Eagles boss is positive that the presence of the attacking duo will aid his team’s chances at the continental showpiece in Egypt

Tunisia coach Alain Giresse has praised Saint-Etienne star Wahbi Khazri and AS Eupen winger Youssef Msakni as crucial players for the country ahead of their participation at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Both players have been in fine form for their respective clubs so far this season with crucial performances.

In the French Ligue 1, Khazri has been a key player in Saint-Etienne's rise to fourth place with 13 goals and six assists in 31 league outings as they chase a spot in Europe.

Msakni is having a decent start to life in Belgium with three goals after 12 league games since he arrived from Qatari side Al Duhail on loan in January.

Though Giresse is yet to release any squad list for the tournament, the former Senegal and Mali gaffer disclosed that Msakni who missed out on the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia through injury , is ready for the challenge in Egypt next month.

“I do not ask myself if he [Msakni] is vengeful. He especially wants to find the competition and a high level. He is hungry for that. It will not cancel what happened to him before the World Cup. We cannot console him,” Giresse told Goal.

“Now, he is planning for the Africa Cup of Nations and he must have the necessary pace for this competition.”

On Khazri who has been in stunning form this season, the 66-year-old said; “He inevitably becomes a technical leader like Msakni. He has high-level abilities. They will give us a plus.”

Giresse has rich experience of African football and has featured at the Africa Cup of Nations on five different occasions.

Ahead of the tournament in Egypt, the ex-France international thinks his experience with different teams on the continent will help the Carthage Eagles’ ambitions as they gun for their second Afcon title.

“This is my fifth final phase. We know how to approach and prepare for these group matches. We are increasingly familiar with African football also with opponents we usually play. These are details that should not be overlooked,” he continued.

“Do you think a coach needs his leaders to tell him to win? Everyone on the final stage lives to make the best result. We cannot limit our ambition and be satisfied to leave the group. We will be fine. We want to go as far as possible in this Africa Cup of Nations.”

Tunisia have been drawn against Angola, Mali and debutants Mauritania in Group E. Giresse is expecting a tough challenge.

“It should not be neglected. Obviously, it is not the den with Morocco, Ivory Coast and South Africa which is very, very solid but we have a compact group,” he added.

“Angola has a slightly more Latin character than other African teams, Mauritania will have enthusiasm and Mali have individual quality. It will not be easy and the players know it.”