The Tuque Souq's very masculine love affair with Tunisian football is primed for another romantic escapade this weekend as Les Aigles de Carthage--as Tunisia's national team is nicknamed--play their penultimate World Cup qualifying match on Sunday versus Kenya.
In last month's critical Africa Group B match, Tunisian midfielder Oussama Darragi scored a stunning goal 3 minutes into extra time to draw his side into a 2-2 tie with Nigeria in Abuja, leaving the shocked and heavily favoured Super Eagles still two points adrift of the North Africans with two matches remaining.
Check out the replay of this incredible goal--Darragi collects a pass chipped over the defence and beats the goalie at a tight angle.
Sunday at Stade du 7 Novembre, Tunisia's home turf, Les Aigles with a win over Kenya can clinch their fourth consecutive World Cup finals berth if Nigeria fail to win against Mozambique.
A HARD BAHRAIN'S GONNA FALL
In other World Cup news, wee Bahrain enter the final stage of their Disneyesque quest for a World Cup finals debut.
After their shock defeat of Saudi Arabia last month, the diminutive islanders have reached the final playoff round of World Cup qualifying, which owing to FIFA's pro-Occidental regime of continent-based qualifying, sees Asia's fifth-place team (Bahrain) play Oceania's best team (New Zealand) for one, lottery-like at-large berth in the World Cup finals.
New Zealand, for those of you who weren't aware that Oceania was a continent, got to this stage of World Cup qualifying by beating the snot out of countries like Fiji (population 849,000), New Caledonia (population 249,000) and the offshore tax-haven of Vanuatu (population 240,000).
Given that New Zealand have a stellar record beating up on small islands, the Kiwis are fairly confident they can eliminate Bahrain. Thus the latter are hoping the overconfidence of the down-under cousins will be Bahrain's boon.
Game 1 of the home-and-home playoff is tomorrow in Manama. The second leg will be in New Zealand on November 14.
UPDATE OCTOBER 12
Tunisia 1-0 Kenya
Nigeria 1-0 Mozambique
Bahrain 0-0 New Zealand
Les Aigles won but so did Nigeria, so it all comes down the final day, November 14, when Tunisia travel to Mozambique and Nigeria to Kenya. On the same day, in Africa Group C, Egypt will host Algeria, the former needing a win to qualify and avoid a huge upset. And Bahrain will need a win or at least a goal-scoring draw to edge the Kiwis. Stay tuned.