Tunisians seize rare moment of joy as they cheer World Cup draw with Denmark

North Africans survive a stoppage-time penalty check to secure a point against the Scandinavians

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Hundreds gathered in Tunis to celebrate the start of the Tunisian national team's Fifa World Cup journey as they took on Denmark on Tuesday.

Cheers and enthusiastic chanting mixed with traditional Tunisian songs could be heard in the city centre area as people waved flags to show their support for their compatriots.

Nerves were frayed as fans cheered on the team as they continually defied Danish attacks, with the crowd saluting their players’ efforts.

In the end, Tunisia survived a stoppage-time penalty check to earn a 0-0 draw.

Excitement reached its peak as the referee's whistle declared the end of the game — and a result deemed more than satisfying for the Tunisians.

Feten, 46, a nurse, compared the celebrations to those of Eid.

“Our joy is big despite all the crisis in Tunisia,” she told The National as she stood in the front row to watch the game.

Tunisia fans watch their team play in a World Cup game against Denmark on a large screen set up for fans in Tunis. AP

“We wanted to forget the general mood and stress. We’re all happy and the guys lived up to our expectations and brought us hope back.”

For Noor, 22, a student, football is not usually something she would take much of an interest in.

“I don’t follow football a lot,” she said. “But I saw that they played well and did not leave room for the Danish team to score. They made us proud and we are hoping next time we will do better.”

Football restoring a sense of belonging

Amid challenging socio-economic conditions, Tunisians flocked in big numbers to watch TV screens in cafes and public spaces to cheer on their team as they try to seize a rare moment of joy and celebration.

“As usual, football is the only thing that makes us happy in this country,” Amara Masoudi, 69, told The National.

Updated: November 22, 2022, 6:01 PM