Four Tiny Tidbits On: Tunisia

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The World Cup is ominously close! So that you aren't caught offside (they have that in soccer, right?), we're previewing all the participants, bringing you Four Things You Don't Know About Them. If you have a tidbit, send it along to Today: Tunisia! And for World Cup previews that are even better than ours, check out That's On Point.

1. Obi-Wan May Be Their Only Hope. Yes, Luke Skywalker's home planet has made the World Cup finals. George Lucas has used the Tunisian desert for scenes involving the planet Tatooine in all of his Star Wars films, and, in fact, many of the sets are still around, many of them in the village of Tozeur. It all makes the area one of the country's leading tourist attractions. Among other films set in Tunisia have been Raiders of the Lost Ark and The English Patient.


2. Play It Again, Roger. Tunisia made the finals at the expense of its North African neighbor Morocco (home of another famous movie locale, that of Casablanca). Tunisia has managed to avoid the sea change of African soccer, being the only one of five nations which took part in the 2002 WC to make a repeat trip to the finals. In fact, former French coach Roger Lemerre will lead Tunisia to its third consecutive Cup berth, and fourth overall. The area has a history of great leaders, after all. It's the home of ancient Carthage, from which the general Hannibal departed to cross the Alps and attack Rome.

3. That '70s Show. It was in 1978 that Tunisia pulled a huge upset over Mexico, 3-1, in the former's first ever World Cup game; the first time that an African team had ever won in the tournament. But they haven't won a game since.


4. Know Your Tunisian Stars. Tunisia has been boosted by foreign players, including 26-year-old Brazilian Francileudo Dos Santos, a striker who is now a Tunisian citizen. Pushed off of the Brazilian team because of that squad's great depth at striker, he scored six goals in qualifying and figures to be one of the premiere offensive threats in the WC. Also at striker is Haykel Guemamdia, a budding star. Hatem Trabelsi, who plays for Ajax Amsterdam, is one of the best right-side defenders in the world.

(Monday: Spain).