Arab Football Has 'Long Way' To Go, Expert Says
The 2018 World Cup's "last Arab hope" was eliminated as a result of Tunisia's 5-2 loss against Belgium on Saturday, "adding more evidence to the argument that Arab football has a long way to go to demonstrate real competition on the world's biggest stage," according to Mahmoud Fouly of XINHUA. The Tunisian squad is preparing to go home along with fellow Arab competitors Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, each of which suffered defeats in its first two matches. Following the match against Belgium, Tunisian national team coach Nabil Maaloul said that Arab teams have a "long way to go before they could compete effectively at the World Cup." Football expert and former Egyptian Premier League side Al-Ahly striker Taha Ismail said, "For Arab teams, qualifying for the World Cup itself is an accomplishment, but our levels don't allow us to compete." Most experts attributed the Arab sides' poor performances to a "lack of fitness and effort on the players' part," rather than any strategic or tactical inadequacy. Ismail: "Arab teams lack professionalism and seriousness in their World Cup preparations. We don't have sufficient training camps or enough finance. We have a long way to go." He added that "our level in football is low and we should admit that" (XINHUA, 6/25).