SANDRA AIGNER / AIPS in SHARJAH: Firstly Japan and now Tunisia have wrecked Russian dreams at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in UAE 2013 with a 1-0 win here.
After two matches the European champions find themselves bottom of Group D while Tunisia, after two victories, top the table.
The Russians dominated the first quarter-hour but could not overcome the defensive strength of Tunisian captain Bahaeddine Othman.
In the 13th minute Aleksandr Makarov was foiled by goalkeeper Sabri Ben Hessen from Tunisia but the North Africans, in turn, did not take their chances either.
Finally, in the 61st minute, Tunisian substitute Maher Gabsi beat Denis Yakuba in the tackle to put his team ahead to the delight of 2,200 mostly Tunisian fans at the Sharjah Stadium.
The Russians worked hard in response and created many chances from close range but failed to make any of them count.
Russian coach Dmitry Khomukha said later: “Basically we played quite well and had a lot of chances but again didn’t succeed in scoring goals. That was the main problem.”
A secondary problem, for Khomukha, was the heat. He said: “If we compare the temperatures between Russia and here the difference is more than 30 degrees. Of course, for the teams who live in high temperatures, s it’s more confortable and easier for them to get used to such conditions here.”
While the depressed Russians crashed down to earth, the Tunisians soared into a seventh heaven.
Coach Abdelhay Ben Soltane said: “We got calls from our country. We know that everybody is watching us all around the world, I am happy to have won two games.”
He disputed the Russian suggestion of climatic assistance, saying: “Tunisia is like a European country, I do not think that this climate conditions are helping us. It could be an advantage for Nigeria or Ivory Coast, not for us.”