Overview of Player
Naïm Sliti is a skilled and pacey winger that lines up for Dijon in France’s Ligue 1, where he made 31 appearances, scoring 7 goals and getting 6 assists. He has 16 caps for Tunisia and 3 goals. The 25 year-old, 5’8″ and 165 lb winger wears the #10 for Dijon and deservedly so. He has previously played for both Paris FC and Sedan in France’s Ligue 2. He is currently contracted to Lille in Ligue 1 but played for Dijon on loan. After a good season, he will be looking to cement a first team place in the Lille squad with a good World Cup performance.
Overview of Nation
Tunisia had a fast-paced and fun to watch run through CAF (Africa) qualifying. However, with injuries to key attackers like Youssef Msakni and others, this caused the team to not physically be able to keep up the intensity they did in qualifiers, their style may have to change. Not to mention, the 21st-ranked Tunisia has to face powerhouses England and Belgium in their group. In a recent warm-up game against 2010 World Cup winners Spain, Tunisia lost only 1-0 off a last-minute Aspas goal. It was an impressive performance from Tunisia, which gives them plenty of hope to do well against England and Belgium and make it out of their group.
Performance of Player in Qualifying
The French-born dual-national is a fairly new face in the Tunisia set up. He only played 150 minutes, in 3 games, during Tunisia’s somewhat easy qualifying campaign. For Tunisia overall he has 20 caps with 3 goals and 3 assists. In the Africa Cup of Nations he played 4 games for Tunisia, bagging 2 goals and getting an assist, a great return over 4 games. He has been in fairly good form for his club and had great return in a competitive tournament (Africa Cup of Nations.) He seems like a big game player, which he will have to be to help rise Tunisia out of their group.
Why He’s One To Watch
Naïm Sliti slots into a debilitated attack, becoming the possible focal point. Sliti’s best moments come from running with the ball from deep and then cutting inside, getting off a pass or shot. Sliti is fast, and is a player that I would nickname “Super Cuts” (like the hair cut place, get it?). I call him that because I don’t see him doing too many moves, but simply cuts. When he cuts, changes direction, or spins, the ball stays glued to his feet. He rarely switches from his favorite right-foot, which you’d think defenders would be able to read and stop. Defenders see the opportunity to steal the ball, and the second they commit, Sliti is past them with a quick cut without losing any speed or control of the ball. Since England and Belgium are teams that will likely push-up in attack and be succeptable, Sliti will be able to take the ball from deep and cut on flat-footed defenders (like Eric Dier of England), bringing the ball to the center of the pitch lining up a shot or sliding in a quick pass. When he cuts inside, brings the ball to the center at the top of the box and is finally surrounded and about to be closed down, he is able to somehow sneak through a pass. Quick no-look passes to an open Tunisian attacker will be something to expect. Naïm Sliti reminds me of players I have come up against when playing in high school and college. These players I have gone against are normally unplayable on their day, completely cutting up my team and carrying their team. I’ve been trying to figure out why I see so few professional footballers with a similar play style of quick cuts. Naïm Sliti is really one of the first professional players I can truly say emulates what I have experienced in my playing experience and I just wonder if he will have a successful World Cup and be the beginning of a new generation of blistering wingers that cut inside and cut you up.
Video of Player/Compilation
Sliti is a very accomplished player in the three roles behind the striker and as mentioned in the article is quite versatile. This Arsenal of attacking roles will be very influential in Tunisia’s World Cup campaign. Naim has fantastic attributes in areas such as technique, dribbling and agility, so watch out for this Tunisian attacker.
This isn’t the only ‘One to Watch’, we are releasing a one to watch article for every nation in the World Cup. An hour before each team kick off their first World Cup Group Stage game, we will release that nations one to watch. These can be viewed here – One to Watch for all Nations in World Cup 2018
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