Tunisia face the prospect of fielding a striker in goal against Panama in their final Group G at the World Cup after Fifa denied the Eagles of Carthage the opportunity to call up an emergency stopper after injuries to their starting keeper and number two after their first two games in Russia.
First-choice Mouez Hassen was injured in Panama’s 2-1 loss to England and was replaced by Farouk Ben Mustapha for the game against Belgium. But the Al-Shabab stopper picked up a problem during that game and will not be available against Panama, leaving Tunisia with only their third-choice, Aymen Mathlouthi, standing for Thursday’s game.
Tunisia had asked Fifa to allow them to fly in Esperance Tunis keeper Moez Ben Cherifia to provide extra cover but the world governing body pointed to the regulation stating that any emergency replacements must be made within 24 hours of a nation’s opening game at the World Cup.
Ben Youssef on stand-by in case of another injury
That leaves Nabil Maâloul with a selection headache, requiring the Tunisia boss to select an outfield player to sit on the bench with a spare pair of gloves in case anything should befall Mathlouthi.
That job has gone to Al-Ettifaq winger Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, who started on the right of the Tunisia attack in both their previous group games. It was probably an easy choice for Maâloul to make: at 6 feet and four inches Ben Youssef is the tallest player at his disposal, although he has never before played between the sticks for club or country.