Panama vs Tunisia Preview: Group G's eliminated teams hope to restore some pride in final World Cup bought
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Panama vs Tunisia Preview: Group G's eliminated teams hope to restore some pride in final World Cup bought

Panama and Tunisia may already be eliminated from the World Cup but there are still points to play for in Group G as both sides look to return to their native countries with something to show.

Joshua Kerr

Group G will play host to the final set of group-stage fixtures on Thursday as Panama and Tunisia come head-to-head at the Mordovia Arena with both sides sitting on zero points and already eliminated from the competition. 

Neither side can progress but pride is still at stake 

Both teams were never expected to progress in Group G after European giants Belgium and England were drawn from the pot with them last December. 

However, both teams will still want to make a good account of themselves as well as avoiding finishing bottom of the group. 

The two sides were both on the end of second-game maulings after Panama were hit for six against Gareth Southgate's Three Lions in a 6-1 defeat on Sunday, whilst Belgium produced a five-star performance to also cruise to the last-16 against Tunisia in a 5-2 victory.

Both teams will undoubtedly be going for the win, however, anything less than a victory for Panama will see Los Canaleros finish rock-bottom of Group G due to Tunisia's superior goal-difference.

Tunisia looking for first World Cup win since 1978

Tunisia may have never been one of the favourites to progress to the knockout rounds of the competition, but the North African side came into Russia as Africa's highest ranked team sitting 21st in the Fifa World Rankings - six places above Senegal.

The Eagles of Carthage may feel hard done by in their opening fixture as an injury-time winner from Harry Kane robbed them of a potential point. 

However, Head Coach Nabil Maâloul will be hoping to become the first manager in 13 games to win a game at a World Cup with their last victory coming in the 1978 competition against Mexico.

Tunisia will be disappointed to have been eliminated so early, although the fixture against Panama could help them justify why they are Africa's highest rated team. 

Right-back Hamdi Nagguez has revealed Tunisia is determined to end its long-standing losing streak as their World Cup campaign concludes on Sunday.

"We played two matches against better teams than us, as we were in a difficult group," said the full-back.

"Now, we should focus on the last match and win against Panama and stop this run of 40 years without winning a World Cup match."

An experience to behold for Panama 

Panama may be exiting the competition as one of the worst teams in the competition, but manager Hernán Darío Gómez should still be proud of his countries incredible achievement. 

Despite defeat to Belgium and humiliation to England, it has been a learning curve for the CONCACAF nation.

Los Canaleros famously denied the United States a spot at the World Cup in qualifying, and head coach Hernan Dario Gomez has been delighted with the experience despite two big defeats.

"I've had to play against two spectacular opponents. But that's absolutely fantastic because that's how you learn and draw conclusions and that's how you can tell where your team is," the manager said.

"There are tremendous teams here at the World Cup, all with tremendous physical fitness, with lots of tactics and good technique, good pressing and organisation, speed on the pitch.

"I've really enjoyed watching the games at this World Cup and been very, very happy to be here. It's just such a pity that we've been knocked out."

Team News 

Tunisia saw both Dylan Bronn and Syam Ben Youssef walk of injured in their match against the Red Devils on Saturday, the two are also likely to miss the final Group G fixture

Panama will also be without a couple of key players for this fixture. Their aggressive approach and fiery nature has cost both Armando Cooper and Michael Murillo to miss the match due to suspension.

Likely Tunisia XI: Farouk Ben Mustapha; Hamdi Nagguez, Syam Ben Youssef, Yassine Meriah, Ali Maaloul; Ferjani Sassi, Eilyes Skhiri, Naim Sliti; Fakhereedine Ben Youssef, Wahbi Khazri, 

Likely Panama XI: Jaime Penedo; Adolfo Machado, Roman Torres, Fidel Escobar, Felipe Baloy, Eric Davis;  Edgar Barcenas, Ricardo Avila, Anibal Godoy, Jose Luis Rodriguez; Blas Perez