No regrets for Lemerre after Tunisia humbled

January 31, 2006

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Tunisia coach Roger Lemerre says he has no regrets over fielding a weakened side that lost 3-0 to Guinea in their final group match at the African Nations Cup on Monday.

Leading scorer Francileudo dos Santos was among the players rested by the Frenchman, who decided to experiment rather than make sure of top place in their group.

Both teams had already qualified for the quarter-finals.

Guinea's emphatic win, their second in three meetings with Tunisia, means they finished top of Group C with a maximum nine points from three games and will stay in Alexandria for their quarter-final on Friday.

Defending champions Tunisia, meanwhile, must travel to Port Said to face the Group D winners - which could be any one of Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal - on Saturday.

'I don't regret the choice I've made,' said Lemerre, who before the game had said he would field his strongest team and try to win the group.

'We had won our first two games and we'd already done the most important thing.'

'The first thing I would talk about is the quality of the opponents,' he said as he was grilled by the frustrated Tunisian media.

'Guinea were very fast, very skilful and deserved their win.

'I have the obligation to put all the players to the test, it's by playing matches that they will progress, it's during the match that they can show their qualities.'

'It's true that today we were short of character but it's also true that our opponents played really well.'

'I take the responsibility for what happened.'