Tunisia is making its third appearance at the World Cup football finals, but it has never made it beyond the first round. In Argentina in 1978, Tunisia became the first African nation to win a game in the World Cup by beating Mexico. However, this year the North African nation faces the challenge of a tough group and the loss of one of its stars.

One of Tunisia's two co-managers, Ammar Souayah, says he believes that his team can make it to the round of 16 at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan. However, the North Africans have suffered the loss of key striker Oussama Sellami, who has a knee injury and will miss the tournament.

Tunisia is making its second straight appearance at the World Cup, and international football commentator Derek Rae says that with Sellami out, Tunisia's hopes have dimmed.

"Tunisia played in 1998 without really setting the heather on fire quite frankly," he said. "And I think that it would be a bit of a stretch to think that much has changed for Tunisia since then."

Tunisia has also lost French coach Henri Michel after a disappointing performance at the African Cup of Nations tournament this year. Tunisia's preparations for the World Cup suffered another setback when defender Hatem Trabelsi was forced to skip training with a swollen right knee. However, he is on the squad for Japan and South Korea.

Derek Rae says fans can not look for too much excitement from the North Africans.

"So many of their players are still based at home. There is the odd one you will find playing in Europe, but as a rule they are reserves," he said. "So things are not looking too good in the build-up for Tunisia. And I think they will have their work cut out for them in Group H."

Tunisia opens its World Cup campaign against Russia June 5 in Kobe, Japan. The North Africans then take on Belgium June 10 in Oita and finish Group H play against co-host Japan in Osaka June 14.