World Cup 2022: Tunisia coach hails fans after opening draw against Denmark

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Tunisia fans cheer during their World Cup game against DenmarkTunisia fans made their presence felt in the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan
Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listings - Full coverage details

Coach Jalel Kadri paid tribute to Tunisia fans after the North Africans earned a precious point against Denmark in their opening Group D game at the World Cup.

The majority of the 42,925 spectators at the Education City Stadium in Qatar were Tunisians, who created a raucous atmosphere.

Their support lifted the performance of a team who had been expected to struggle against the heavily fancied Danes, with the match ending 0-0.

"The fan factor was very positive for us. It mentally gave us a great lift and we are looking forward to seeing the fans continue to do that for us," Kadri said.

"It really helped us in the game, but tactically and physically we did well too."

Midfielder Aissa Laidouni, who set the tone for the game with a crunching early tackle on Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen, was also full of praise for the atmosphere created by the Tunisia fans.

"I think it's important to come on the pitch and show determination, also with the fans we have here in Qatar. It (their support) is amazing and it's also important to show them that we are so determined," said Laidouni.

"This is the World Cup. This is not a small competition, it's the most important competition in the world."

Both sides had goals ruled out for offside and Denmark forward Andreas Cornelius somehow missed from a yard out before Tunisia survived a 95th-minute penalty appeal.

Video replays showed the ball striking the hand of centre-back Yassine Meriah as he attempted to clear a corner - but also that there was a push in the back of a Carthage Eagles team-mate as the ball came into the box.

After consulting his pitch-side screen, Mexican referee Cesar Ramos awarded a free-kick to the Tunisians, to the relief of most of those in the crowd.

"I can't put into words my feelings at that moment but you can imagine it well," Kadri said.

"I thought we would get that penalty given against us and the VAR has every right to intervene. But today it was in our favour and this is what football is all about. VAR decisions have to be respected."

Next up for Tunisia are Australia on Saturday (10:00 GMT) before they face defending champions France on 30 November in their quest to qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time at the sixth attempt.

"We are in strong group and we have one point. This will give us energy for the next game," Kadri, who took charge in January, added.

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