Having lived and cheered there, the Tuque Souq is unabashedly partial to Tunisia and especially Tunisian football. The former (2004) African Cup of Nations champions have qualified for the last 3 World Cup finals, and first qualified in 1978 (where they famously trounced Mexico with 3 unanswered second-half goals in one of the all-time great, if obscure, World Cup upsets).
Currently ranked 45th in the world (and 9th in Africa), Tunisia are led by star midfielder and OGC Nice player Chaouki Ben Saada, as well as Brazilian-born striker Francileudo Santos and former Etoile du Sahel (Sousse) star Saber Frej, who now plays club ball for Le Mans.
But my favourite thing about Tunisia football -- Bouha! Bouha is the mascot of my beloved L'Etoile football club (currently third in the table in the Tunisian professional club league). Bouha is... what the hell is he? Some sort of confused-looking Scottish devil? A hirsute desert-dwelling albino hay farmer? Actually I have no idea. Nobody yet has been able to give me the low-down on Bouha's origin. Anybody know?
MEANTIME, APROPOS OF ALMOST NOTHING
L'Etoile last won the league championship in 2007 and the Coupe de la Ligue in 2005. Its main rival is L'Espérance Sportive de Tunis, the club owned by the family of Tunisia's president Zine el-Abidine ben Ali and the all-time winningest Tunisian club.
The greatest moment in the history of Tunisian football came in 2007, when L'Etoile du Sahel captured the African Champions League trophy with a 3-1 upset victory over club Al-Ahly of Egypt, indisputably Africa's best club team of all time. L'Etoile's then star striker Amine Chermiti scored 8 goals in the tourney, parlaying that success into a deal with German club and Bundesliga title-chasers Hertha Berlin, where he now plays.
Chermiti is also a budding star on Tunisia's national team, which opens play for World Cup qualification on March 28 against Kenya. Tunisia are also grouped with Mozambique and Nigeria; the group winner advances to South Africa 2010. May the spirit and flowing red locks of Bouha guide Tunisia to victory!
[Coming later this month... the Tuque Souq World Cup qualifying preview. Stay tuned.]