Tunisia coach upbeat despite CAN defeat

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Wednesday 1 Feb 2012

Trabelsi expresses satisfaction with team’s performance despite the 1-0 defeat by Gabon in Africa Cup of Nations (CAN)'s 1st round on Tuesday

Sami Trabelsi
Tunisia soccer coach Sami Trabelsi attend a press conference at Okoume hotel in Libreville, Gabon, Monday, Jan. 30, 2012 ahead of their next African Cup of Nations Group C soccer match. (Photo: AP)

Tunisia coach Sami Trabelsi is satisfied with his team’s performance despite its 1-0 defeat by Gabon in the Africa Cup of Nations' first round on Tuesday.

The Carthage Eagles' first defeat at the prestigious continental tournament didn’t prevent them from qualifying for the quarterfinals, however, as they finished second in group A (two wins and one defeat), while co-hosts Gabon took the lead with a perfect nine points from three matches.

“Our performance was better than in the previous two games. It was marvellous in the first half, as we were targeting the group summit,” Trabelsi said at a post-match press conference.

Tunisia, the 2004 champions, rested several of their top stars, including goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi, skipper Karim Haggui, Khaled Korbi and Mejdi Traoui, as they would have missed the quarterfinals had they been booked.

"We rested some of our players because they had already been booked and we didn't wish to risk them before the quarterfinals,” explained Trabelsi. "However, those who played today showed many good qualities."

Tunisia will face today’s winners from Group D (Ghana will play Guinea while Mali will take on Botswana).

Trabelsi, for his part, expressed confidence in his team's ability to hold their own against the two heavyweights.

“We don’t care which team we play in the quarterfinals,” the 43-year-old coach concluded.

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