The Desert Foxes (on our boxes)


610x The Desert Foxes (on our boxes)

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Our esteemed editor wrote recently about Black stars and elephants and why it could be African football’s year. There are a few other reasons why I’ve got so into the CAF as I affectionately call it. The kits, for a start. Mainly Puma, with some lovely shoulder designs such as Cameroon’s lions, Algeria’s fox face or the goalkeepers’ tribal face paints. Maybe it’s been that waspy buzzing of the strangely-named horns in the half empty stadiums. Perhaps it was an unwitting consequence of my recently-found love of Steven Pienaar, particularly after that goal at Arsenal ( and the anticipation of his starring role in South Africa’s upcoming World Cup.

Or, maybe it’s just been as an antidote to the moribund shenanigans of non-celebrities that my beloved insists on watching every night.

Anyway, for the last three and a bit weeks I’ve been watching, often not quite believing what I was seeing. By that I don’t just mean the often-rather-mundane Eurosport commentary or the ad nauseum repetition of the half-time advert in which the kid gets sent a ‘jarg’ Coventry shirt in the post and stupidly gets ‘Nigeria 8p / min’ printed on the back of it.

Naturally, I had a special interest in Nigeria’s progress because of the Everton contingent, Yakubu and Yobo, however neither covered themselves in glory as the not-so-Super Eagles stuttered out of the tournament.

However, my fascination with the competition overall was heightened this year because it was the first since I discovered my Negro gums.

figure54 The Desert Foxes (on our boxes)

What? What did you say? I hear you ask, in the style of one of the creepy Lords at the start of The Phantom Menace when talking to Emperor Palpatine.

Well, my dentist explains it better than I.

Eighteen months ago during a routine check-up, that guy whose chin always mesmerised me (I imagined it with eyes stuck on, singing) declared for the first time in twenty years of visits, that my gums were a curious colour, and were akin to those of a negro, a North African, or at the very least, a Mediterranean.

Having Italian and French family, and recently getting engaged to a lovely lady with Greek and Spanish heritage, this could have just been a happy coincidence, however the romantic in me immediately created an elaborate ancestry that centred around my North African roots. I steered clear of the Negro links because, although I wanted a link to Ryan Giggs, I discovered the incredible myth of Mississippi Blue Gums whose bite was deadlier than any snake…

sore gums swollen from gingivitis poor oral hygiene The Desert Foxes (on our boxes)

It just so happened that at school I had learned about the Maghrebin population of Marseilles, of which Zinedine Zidane was perhaps the most famous member. Having been entranced by Douglas Gordon and Mogwai’s ‘21st century Portrait’ of Zizou a few years back, I quickly settled on an Algerian heritage.

Algeria began to infiltrate my thoughts. Only after getting those fortunes told did I discover that Bouazza had signed for Blackpool; then came the World Cup draw, and media interest will increase before June’s match against England. As part of my Uni research I began to plan a trip to Algiers, until I read the BA advice to “not travel to the country unless absolutely necessary”, a decision I reluctantly made that was confirmed when I read FourFourTwo’s recent ‘More than a game’ article on Egypt v Algeria and the violence that accompanied it.

algeria The Desert Foxes (on our boxes)

Which brings us to tonight’s game, and already we have seen a dodgy penalty that should then not have been allowed, and the blue-bandaged keeper with the weird hair nearly headbutt the ref as a result. Meanwhile there are reports that rival journalists are fighting pitchside.

To be honest, Algeria have disappointed me somewhat in this tournament so far, especially in their first game against Malawi, then they were brilliant in knocking out many people’s pre-tournament fav


Egypt have just scored a second. And it was put away by Zidan.

So, maybe the third and fourth place play off will be a face-off between Evertonians and my distant relatives, and I’ll have to look forward to the World Cup before I can truly celebrate my oral heritage.

So… I’ll put Celebrity Big Brother on instead.

*Watches Vinny Jones et al for a bit*

First ad break, three nil. Second ad break, it’s four nil, two more sendings off… Bye, gums.