A natural finisher, a clinical centre forward, a classic goal poacher, these are the qualities that could best describe Tunisia’s all time leading scorer Issam Jemaa. The Tunisian striker is expected to line up against Zebras when the Group G sides begin the 2015 AFCON Qualifiers next week Saturday (September 6).
The likes of Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o are regarded as Africa’s best strikers but Jemaa’s international goal tally suggests that he should be mentioned in the same bracket as the duo. He does not command the same worldwide attention as Drogba and Eto’o but on his day he can be just as lethal. Jemaa has an impressive goal tally for Tunisia; he has scored 36 goals in 80 games for the former African champions.
He emerged as Tunisia’s next best prospect in 2005 at a time when the nation was anxious about whether or not a local striker could replace the ailing Francileudo Santos as the main striker. Jemaa obliged by quickly settling into the role and eventually became their star player.
The 30- year- old striker is a ‘big game player’, he has scored goals against African giants such as Ghana, Mali, Morocco and Senegal. He always rises to the occasion during big games. Jemaa also boasts two goals against former world champions France.
His pace and movement are some of his biggest traits; he is not afraid to dribble past players and create openings for his teammates. He packs a powerful shot and occasionally scores long range shots. His left footed long range drives became a trademark during his days in the French Ligue 1. Overall Jemaa scores all types of goals; volleys, headers, tap ins and solo efforts with relative ease.
Like many left footed players, Jemaa has a weakness of failing to utilize his weaker foot (right foot) when chances present themselves. He often tries to shift to a position which could favour his left foot, and that often gives his opponents enough time to regain the ball from him. It also makes him predictable.
He also has a tendency of reacting angrily to fouls and often resorts to bad tackles when he is frustrated by a lack of supply from his teammates. He received a red card in a friendly against Belgium earlier this year following an altercation with Vincent Kompany.