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Tunisia coach blames forced substitutions for defeat to Belgium

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Having lost 2-1 to England in their Group G opening match, Tunisia arrived at the Otkrytiye Arena with hopes of a win to recover and progress to the last 16 round.

But their expectation was cut off Tunisia head coach Nabil Maaloul was compelled to alter his defence when right back Dylan Bronn and center back Syam Ben Youssef were forced off injured in the 24th and 41st minutes respectively.

It was an almost a similar scenario in their last match against England when they lost goalkeeper Mouez Hassen in the 15th minute.

“Obviously the substitutes we had to do for our backline, for our defenders also confused us,” said Maaloul at Saturday’s post-match press conference, via Goal.

“So, when you have to change that many players, you put more pressure on your defenders but I think the Belgium team deserved to win.”

Bronn, the scorer of Tunisia’s first goal, was replaced by Hamdi Nagguez before Leicester City’s Yohan Benalouane came in for Ben Youssef.

Maaloul regards the third goal as the sucker punch that sealed their fate.

“I think 80 percent of the match is based on morale so at the beginning of this match we conceded a goal and then we conceded the second but we were able to score a goal so our morale improved,” Maaloul said.

“However the third goal came at a very difficult time towards the end of the first half and it’s true it affected the morale of our players.”

Saturday’s defeat condemned Tunisia to yet another unsuccessful attempt to reach the knockout round in five World Cups.