The marquee match-up marks the first-time in the history of the U.S. Men's National Team program that the USA has played an international match against Tunisia. It is also the team's first- ever match in Birmingham, Ala., however, when the U.S. team takes the field on March 12, Olympic memories will be brought back to U.S. head coach Bruce Arena and certain players.
Arena led the 1996 U.S. Olympic team, comprised mostly of under-23 players, to a 2-0 victory over Tunisia on July 22 at Legion Field during the summer Atlanta Olympic Games. The '96 U.S. Olympic team also played Argentina at Legion Field but fell to the South American powerhouse 3-1 in front of 83,183 soccer fans. Among the players on the '96 Olympic team were goalkeeper Kasey Keller (Rayo Vallecano - Spanish First Division), midfielders Claudio Reyna (Glasgow Rangers - Scottish Premiership) and Frankie Hejduk (Bayer Leverkusen - German Bundesliga), and forward Jovan Kirovski (Borussia Dortmund - German Bundesliga).
"The support that we received in Birmingham during the Olympics was excellent," said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. "We have not had very many games against African nations, so this will be a good preparation match for us as we continue to focus on the 2002 World Cup qualifying."
The game will be just the fifth ever for the U.S. against an African nation, the previous four coming against Morocco and Nigeria (twice each). With a population of only 10 million, Tunisia has taken tremendous strides in establishing themselves on the international soccer scene. Tunisia is ranked 31st in the latest FIFA world rankings after finishing 1999 with a respectable 6-2-1 record. That mark included wins over Zambia, United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Uganda. Tunisia is currently undergoing final preparations for the final phase of the African Nations Cup, the championship of Africa.
Tunisia features forward Adel Sellimi, who led the team in scoring during the African Nations Cup group qualifying with three goals in six matches and currently plays for SC Frieburg of the German First Division alongside Tunisian national teammates Zoubier Baya and Mehdi Ben Slimane.
Tickets, which are priced at $12, $20 and $50 for adults, go on sale today and are available by calling TicketMaster at 800/277-1700. For more information regarding the U.S.-Tunisia match please contact Scott Myers with the Alabama Sports Foundation at (205) 967-4745.
The U.S. team is preparing to compete in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which will take place in three different cities (Miami, Los Angles and San Diego) from February 17-27, 2000. Team USA, which was placed in Group B, is scheduled to meet Haiti on Feb. 12 and Peru on Feb. 16 at the Orange Bowl in Miami in the opening round of the regional championship. The top two teams in each of the four groups will advance to the tournaments quarterfinals.