The England 6-a-side team travelled to Tunisia to play in two Minifootball friendlies, but this was more than just two warm up matches for the England team to continue their team preparations for EMF Euros in Hungary in August.
Here, England Team Director and License Holder, shares his diary of the trip.
“The tour took on many team building exercises for the squad selected to represent England in Hungary including Quad biking and Camel riding along with cultural excursions including opera music and historic visits at some of Tunisia’s fabulous sightseeing opportunities” says Paul.
Paul then continued to give his account of the game. “The first match was against local team ES Saheline (ESS). England enjoyed most of the early possession and went close on a couple of occasions with two well worked corner kicks. England hit the post following a free kick from James McCluskey before it was McCluskey who put England a head midway through the first half with a well struck goal from outside the box. ESS equalised before half time with a goal from close range.”
Half time ESS 1 England 1.
“England came out of the blocks very fast in the second half and scored two quick goals from Kurt Herbert and Callum Gardner to make it 3-1. ESS then scored again but an excellent individual goal from Lucas Totti restored the two goal lead at 4-2. Rob Ursell scored to increase the score to 5-2 only for England to see ESS score two quick goals to peg England back to 5-4. A really well worked team goal finished by Sam Murphy made it 6-4 to put a more true reflection on the scoreline having had most of the possession of the ball, hitting the woodwork on three occasions and seeing the ESS goalkeeper make a number of good saves.”
Final Score: ES Saheline 4 England 6
“The second match was against the Tunisian National Minifootball Team. The match carried strong media coverage with the match being screened live on Tunisian National TV.
Post-match figures announced that the match was shown live in 6 countries with a total of 33 million viewers worldwide. 9 TV companies, 25 radio and 156 journalists from around the world covered the match that was attended by the son of the President of Tunisia Republic, The Ministry of Sports and 11 ambassadors.
“With an excellent and vocal crowd of 1896 watching the match in the stadium there was a fanatic atmosphere for this historic match between the two countries.
“England started the first half again playing a good patient possession game plan. This strategy came to fruit as England raced into a two goal lead with and excellent individual goal from Rob Ursell who went pass three Tunisian defenders with his trade mark ‘drag’ technique before beating the goal keeper and a well taken header from Kurt Herbert.
“Tunisia looked very dangerous the break and England found themselves back at 2-2 after a couple of goals from the counter attack. James McCluskey put England ahead with another long shot only to see Tunisia equalise again to make it 3-3. Omar Mohammed scored his first goal in an England shirt to see England go into the break 4-3 up.
“The second half saw a disappointing performance from England, after playing well in the first half and although conceding 3 goals never looked in danger of losing the match. England switched off allowing 3 consecutive goals from Tunisia to take the score to 6-4 in their favour. England scored a late fifth goal through Kurt Herbert but had run out of time to look for the equaliser.
Final score: Tunisia 6 England 5
Paul concluded: “A lot was learnt from the two matches and the also from the visits and team building events. England will travel to Hungary having had the best possible tournament preparations this year with in addition to Tunisia England have prepared with the four Nations tournament in Germany, double matches against Czech Republic and Wales, National trial day and eight squad training camps with three more scheduled before we fly out on 21st August.
Finally, Paul offered his thanks to the hosts, the Tunisian Minifootball Federation, for their hospitality during the visit.