MATHLOUTHI: THE WORLD CUP IS AN OBSESSION FOR ME

2016 was a year to remember for Tunisia goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi. Running out for his club Etoile Sportive du Sahel, where he has spent his entire 14-year career to date, the custodian picked up a league championship winners’ medal and a runners-up medal in the CAF Super Cup and helped his side reach the semi-finals of the CAF Confederation Cup.

With his national team, meanwhile, he played a part in their qualification for the 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations and was also between the posts as the Eagles of Carthage kicked off the third round of the African qualifiers of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ with a brace of wins. As if that were not enough, Mathlouthi married his fiancée in May, at a wedding attended by some of the great and the good of Tunisian football, among them Aymen Abdennour. Life has certainly been good for the 32-year-old keeper these last few months.

“Yes, this last year has definitely been very fulfilling for me on both a sporting and personal level,” Mathlouthi told FIFA.com as 2017 got underway. “It was a case of one good thing after another and it would be hard for me to pick one highlight out, except perhaps the starting point of it all, which came in 2015, when we won the CAF Confederation Cup. As well as kicking off a great run for us, it brought the country together, which was much needed. It felt to me as if all the clubs and all the people of Tunisia were behind us. It was great.”

As both club and national team captain, the popular Mathlouthi knows that one of the main responsibilities of his job involves uniting the players and getting them to focus on the task in hand. While he is more than happy to shoulder that burden, he is also aware of his limits. “I’m very proud to have those responsibilities,” he said. “You really have to give your all. The fact is, though, that I’m one of the old hands at my club and in the national team, and I guess that’s one of the reasons why I was named captain.”

cafonline.com

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