wherein DF travels to Deutschland for the 2006 world cup to follow the US men's national soccer team

Thursday, March 16, 2006

US v. Tunisia in June?

US fans disappointed with the underwhelming slate of pre-World Cup matches announced earlier this week can cautiously take heart in news announced by Reuters yesterday that we're in negotiations with Tunisia for a June friendly. The only date that they seek that also fits the US schedule would be June 2/3 in Tunis; they also want to play on May 27 (when the US alredy has a friendly scheduled) and have scheduled a match against Iran in Germany on June 7.

The North African side--nicknamed the "Carthage Eagles"--were winners of the 2004 African Cup of Nations and are regular World Cup qualifiers (the last time they failed to make the finals was 1994). Much has been made of the fact that this would afford us a chance to play against an African side in advance of meeting Ghana in the Cup, but I don't put much stock in this. The coincidence of two teams hailing from the same continent doesn't mean they'll have anything much in common, especially when you consider that Tunisia is much closer geographically and culturally to Europe than to sub-Saharan Africa. The reason this game is exciting is that it gives us a chance to compete against a challenging, WC-qualified team that will be in form for the upcoming tournament. Let's hope it comes together.

For what it's worth, the Tunisians seem to have the best luck in World Cup draws of any team out there. This time around, they're in the underwhelming group H with Spain, Ukraine, and 2002's WC embarrassment, Saudi Arabia. Last World Cup, the Carthage Eagles were in the undisputed group of life with Japan, Russia, and Belgium. In 1998, they had an average draw with Romania, England, and Colombia. Despite the kindness of Lady Luck, in those previous two tournaments, the Tunisians managed to garner only two points after two draws and a loss, scoring only two goals in the process (a penalty and a free kick).


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