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AFRICAN FOOTBALL

Benzarti: Tunisia dismissal "humiliating and insulting"

Benzarti: Tunisia dismissal "humiliating and insulting"

MOHAMED MESSARA

EFE

Despite qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, the Tunisian FA surprisingly decided to part ways with Faouzi Benzarti.

After securing the country's qualification for next year's Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), head coach Faouzi Benzarti was sacked from Tunisia's national football team, a move he has described as "disappointing, humiliating and insulting."

The decision was made after the Carthage Eagles' 2-1 victory against Niger, which secured them a place at the 2019 Afcon in Cameroon.

"I was informed of the news via a phone call," Benzarti told a local news station in Tunisia. "This is undignifying to me and to Tunisian coaches. They would not have done this had it been a foreign coach.

"I gave everything up and came here, answering a call of duty when my country needed me. My results speak for themselves - two wins away and one victory at home. This was uncalled for."

Unexpected decision

The Tunisian Football Federation haven't disclosed the reasons why they sacked the 68-year-old coach, who was appointed in July this year in place of Nabil Maaloul, who left the team after the World Cup in Russia.

Benzarti, known for his passionate temper, dismissed allegations he was removed from his position due to conflicts within the team and refuted claims of tension with the players.

"The atmosphere in the national team was extraordinary and everyone was getting along well - the staff, the players and everyone," he said.

"I only yell to get the players motivated and pumped. That is my approach to handling the group.

"I have never insulted any player, quite the contrary. I always respect the players and make sure that they feel respected and appreciated. You cannot succeed in a team where players hate you or do not get along with you.

"My results and my titles speak for themselves. It's the third time this has happened to me. Whenever there's trouble in the national team and things aren't going well, they bring me in, to ease people's tension and then get rid of me.

"Wherever I go, I succeed despite all the haters. I am not a toy in their hands and I refuse to be treated that way."

More details to be given

Few details are known, but Federation spokesman Hamed Maghrebi said more information will be given to the public in the future.

"The FA administrative bureau got together to evaluate Mr. Benzarti's time as head of the national team," Maghrebi said.

"We looked at performance, results, training and the relationship with players. Some of these were flawed but some were good and the details will be announced at a later date."

The daunting task of guiding the team in their November fixtures will fall to assistant coaches Mourad Okbi and Maher Kanzari, with a new boss expected to be announced before Tunisia's first match next year.

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