On Wednesday, Algeria beat Egypt 1-0 on neutral ground in Khartoum, in the decisive tiebreaker to determine the last African team qualified for the next world. Egypt-Algeria, but never a game like the others. Between the two nations, there is a rivalry that goes beyond football, dating back to the disillusionment of the former French colony after the dreams of pan-Arabism was born in the land of the Pharaohs, with Nasser. Two nations who look to football as an outlet for frustrations, two nations in eternal transition towards democracy, in which sport is the only form of active participation in a common cause. This is the story of the "mother of all games" of the African continent.
Cairo, November 20, 2009 - It calms the tension created by the challenges for the World Cup qualifiers . Thousands of angry fans stormed the embassy of Algeria in Cairo in the early hours of this morning. Between insults against Algerians, the Algerian flags on fire and roll of drums, the crowd invaded the exclusive residential island of Zamalek, where the embassy is located. Fans threw rocks and firecrackers at police who defended the embassy and overturned a pickup truck by the police, until the officials have failed to roll back a truncheon blows.
The Algerian embassy attack is the latest in a veritable "war of football" that has engulfed the two countries and that yesterday has prompted Egypt to bring home its ambassador for consultations Algiers.
The embassy assault occurred in the wake of rumors , conveyed from the Internet and also on Facebook, Egyptian killed by Algerian supporters in Khartoum on Wednesday night after the victory over Egypt in Algeria the qualifying match for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa. No death has been confirmed, but Algerian fans smashed the windows of the bus that led the Egyptians to the airport.
E 'the final day of Group C of World Cup qualifiers in Africa, but the two thousand Algerian fans in the stands who are celebrating. Despite the defeat, in fact, Algeria could close in the lead group, level on points with Egypt but with a better goal difference. The Pharaohs, when they miss a minute at the end of the six long minutes of recovery, are about to say goodbye to the dream stage to find the rainbow, from which 90 are missing from Italy.
Egypt, led to the bench by the national football legend Hossam Shehata, twice continental champion, started the game as best he could not, took the lead already at 2 'thanks to Amr Zaki, Zamalek striker after The three rejected the Algerian goalkeeper Lounes Gaouaoui, manifests the joy of eighty in Cairo. The Algerians, who have long controlled the game, creating several chances to draw, but the first time El Hadari, goalkeeper of Egypt rejects the first header Halliche then the punishment of Nadir Belhadj. The threshold interval Anthar Yahia was in my throat the scream of a tie, but the lifeboat Said it frustrates the enthusiasm. In the second half Saifi was shot twice in the qualifying goal in vain.
Egyptian fans are now discouraged. They feel that they are losing "the mother of all games" on the continent. Why Egypt-Algeria is not a match like the others, is not just a football game. In fact, after the 3-1 in favor of going to Algeria of the Desert Fox, the second leg before he had lived a turbulent to say the least. A climate of "football war" that has now gone beyond national boundaries.
the eve of the match
Algerian and Egyptian media had to say the least loaded the climate of the Pre, while public authorities are limited a statement that called for calm facade, and behind the scenes feeding attacks in the newspapers. News of modernity, even the blogger of the two nations further ignite sparks violent throwing accusations that often have little to do with technical superiority in the art pedatoria.
The statements by the President of the Egyptian Federation, Samir Zahir, play as many invitations to lynching: Algeria accused of bribing referees in more than a game. Allegations that could have a kernel of truth. It can not be ruled out that the many petrodollars that the Algerian regime has spent on the construction of a national winner will also be served to soften referees and managers. Zahir invites the people to "give no respite to the Algerian team." In the culture of African football "does not give respite" means harass the enemy, the enemy, without rest, until the agony. It means encouraging the axis mbramenti popular means to preach a practice made threats, throwing objects against the opponents, is asking fans to go for an unbearable noise outside the hotel where the opponents are sleeping, all night, for every night, until the day of the match.
practices today a little 'out of use, but in which time Egypt was very clever. And alongside the president lines up commentators TV of the scheme and a host of bloggers and sites that are not limited to the charges of anti-sportsmanship but they attack the Algerians as rapists and even heretical.
A verbal violence that comes from an objective sense of inferiority. Egypt party at a disadvantage because the last group match. He lost a 3-1 first leg, and Algeria has scored lots of goals before the decisive challenge. Egypt has three points less than the Algerians, but the victory is not enough. Algeria has a better goal difference and only passes the first round of the World Cup. The Pharaohs can not be limited to close on equal points, must win c on three-goal margin.
Algerians, as expected, are not watching. All media, collectively, responded to the allegations. Statements to the poison are wasted, even on Facebook. Algiers TV screens broadcast at all hours of songs written ad hoc, each car is dominated by a flag.
When Algerian landing in Cairo, the climate is already quite "fe condo. To accept a stone-throwing. The bus ride from the airport, Iberotel, c he is not far from the airport, in fact, the Algerian national was attacked with stones thrown by a large group of fans. Some players are injured, the star Khalid Lemmouchia, R to FIK Saiki and Rafik Hallike. Following a serious accident, the Egyptian Ambassador to Al geri is immediately summoned.
The two teams, yet so divided, they are united in a sense of business. Why is sponsored by the Algerian national Djezzy, the mobile operator then detected by Orascom's Naguib Sawiris, the Egyptian tycoon hundred percent. The plant in Algiers on the eve of the match is devastated: there are five million of damage and theft of € 100 thousand cell phones. The 25 employees at the plant are called at home, as in wartime.
After the attack, the newspaper columnist Ibrahim Issa of the independent Egyptian Al Dostour you, claimed that "football is not far from the policy: If the Egyptians ian team wins the championship is on the President and his son, if he loses it is the fault of the coach and the goalkeeper. " The editor of another independent newspaper, Al Shourok, compared to the match to a war and noted that the national sports extremism pours anger at the hardships endured and his sense of oppression.
Soon the concert could also "peace" organized after the attack, which saw onstage the 'King of Rai' Cheb Khaled and the popular Egyptian singer Mohammed Mounir.
no explicit reference to the stage to the game, even though the Algerian Khaled yelled, reports the AFP, 'Long live Egypt, Arab country, and live Algeria, the Arab country. "" Whatever you do - he answered, however, a surfer on the web - people are not prepared to be tolerant. "
But what brings these two countries to look at and deal with so much hatred?
An ancient rivalry
Algeria and Egypt are two countries in eternal democratic transition, searching for an outlet to forget poverty and dictatorship. Countries where the ritual of the game also contains much more. Where football is a parenthesis to overshadow social hardship, youth unemployment is very high. Countries where the political embarrassment, for various reasons, is far from being erased. Algeria is still out divided by civil war: Calcium is one of those fields where we meet. The football has always been the heart and blood of the former French colony, which has never completely overcome the conflict between its core European, Mediterranean, Paris, evident in Algiers, and bled, the inside back, desert, Sahara. He was an ardent devotee and practitioner Ahmed Ben Bella, President Algeria from 1962 to 1965, which among other government ran a commitment to the football field. A passion that bound him to the then Sports Minister, who had a leading role in the conspiracy that has placed the power to entrust to the chief of the army Houari Boumedienne. The former Sports Minister, who left politics in 1981, returning in 1989 in the Central Committee of the National Liberation Front, is the current president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Independent candidate supported by the military, won the 1999 elections with 74% of the vote, according to official sources. But the other candidates had withdrawn suspecting fraud.
In Egypt sports, and football in particular, is not just fun. Here expression is forbidden since 1981, in force since the state of emergency. And the stadium then becomes a tool with which you manage your consent, and even the dissent that winds for years in the country.
But not enough to explain the ferocity of the rivalry between the Foxes of the Desert and the Pharaohs. The hostility has roots far away, in Nasser's pan-Arab dream, that in the early 50s he clashed with the colonial ambitions of Britain and especially France. The government has in fact argued that the trans military aid provided by Nasser to the National Liberation Front has been an essential element to foster and support the movement of the Algerian rebellion in an anti-French. But Nasser has also always reproached the dead, the sacrifice of Egypt, Algeria.
political hostility, November 17, 1989, there has been a significant proportion of animosity purely football. Egypt and Algeria will play the qualifier Italy 90. Egypt won 1-0 and qualified for the World Championships (which will be released in the first round despite having torn admired by stopping the applause of England and the Netherlands). But a few hours after the game, the Egyptian doctor was seriously wounded in one eye. The spear is very serious charge that would have been hit by a broken bottle thrown by Lakhdar Belloumi, Ballon d'Or Africa in 1981, then the principal star of Algerian football with the "Heel of God" Rabat Madjer.
So Belloumi tells the eve and the course of that match, which marked a brutal end of his career, in an interview with DZfoot site in January 2007. "The meeting was outrageous. Had already been appointed a referee scandal, the Tunisian Bennaceur. Before the match we had asked the CAF, the African Federation, to change the referee of the meeting but we have not been heard. It was played in difficult conditions, abnormal. We did not sleep, there were fans in the hotel until two o'clock in the morning. Then, as if not enough, 4-5 hours after the end of the game have created the drama. "
Belloumi has always rejected the accusation that he was the author of the gesture. "Arriving at the hotel," continues in the same interview, "we had to come through the back door at the back. The heads of the delegation were there, saw everything. At the time, did not name, so I will not either. Here a player has thrown a glass in the middle of a group of Egyptian fans, and they have exaggerated the issue. They said they would break the glasses of a physician and a piece of glass that would hurt an eye. The same evening they moved to England, they said, but prevented the Algerian Ambassador to Egypt to see him. And above all mounted accusing me. The professionals were all broken, so Belloumi could do was to blame. "
Despite several eyewitnesses who confirmed the innocence of Belloumi, explaining how the author was the goalkeeper Kamel Kadri, the former African Footballer of the Year is seen by the doctor indicted and convicted in absentia. The applicant was issued a international arrest warrant, which remains standing for 20 years, until last April. Through the mediation of the Egyptian and Algerian Olympic Committees, and the promise of the President of the Republic of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who had guaranteed a personal interest in the successful conclusion of the story on the sidelines of a campaign rally in Setif, the victim withdrew the accusation against Belloumi.
"I paid my popularity," said Belloumi in another interview, granted to Mohcen Lamloum the Egyptian magazine "Al-Ahram El-Riyadh" which devoted an entire dossier in that match. "I was the star of Algerian, Egyptian, and we knew little about. But I'm the victim and we have not even seen that evening. Yet we are both victims of a crime that has taken him to an eye and me freedom. "
few months later, then, Algeria had hosted the Africa Cup of Nations. Egypt, four days from the kick-off, threatened to boycott the event. Then he thought better of it but sent a selection of the Under-21 youth and reserves that did not go beyond the first round.
The end of the match
Minute 94. The Algerians are celebrating, but the race is not over. When the last action of the race, the Egyptian striker Emad Moteab jumps head, crosses and corner location, the Algerian fans suddenly fell silent. Egypt won 2-0.
"I can tell you that many of my comrades were pale, some even paralyzed," said midfielder Khaled Lemmouchia reporters after the game. "We human beings, have a family like everyone else. If the Fifa preferred to see Egypt in the World Cup would have told us clearly. We played with three injured players. I played with three points on the forehead: what would happen if the Egyptians had been attacked so in Algiers? They turned their backs and they would leave, and the CAF would be granted in the walkover. "
The verdict is therefore suspended. The two teams close the round tied with one victory each, the same gap, in the direct matches and the same goal difference. The rule is that the last ticket for the World Cup is decided by a playoff, to be played on neutral ground.
When the hypothesis of equilibrium was beginning to seem a realistic possibility, the two federations were asked to indicate a location acceptable to the dispute of the playoffs. The Algeria had indicated that the French-speaking Tunisia, Egypt near the Sudan. And probably also because of its higher specific weight within the African confederation, had been satisfied. The designated premises is the stadium in Khartoum, where a match of this level was missing since 1970, when the Sudan had hosted and won the African Nations Cup.
Fans Egyptians and Algerians invade Khartoum. 48 aircraft departing from Algeria, 18 from Egypt, although in two thousand from the Earth bus of the pharaohs in Egypt to join the large population that lives in the Sudanese capital. Al-Merreikh The stadium is not filled in full, the maximum capacity is reduced to 35 thousand, six thousand below the maximum allowed. Assigned to their respective supporters are about 9000 tickets each. 15 000 cops on alert for the match.
Even the religious leaders groped to intervene to calm everyone down on the eve of the decisive tiebreaker. Students of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, considered a major center for Sunni Islam, have issued a fatwa to invoke the "peace." "Football, in principle, is a game that is designed to give pleasure to people, not to cause disqualification "says the religious-legal opinion. "Governments and states must protect the innocent and strong punishment should be imposed on those who terrorize the population because of their extremism football."
"Sport" stated Sarah El Sirgany, editor of Daily News Egypt, "has become the opium of the masses. Many commentators have pointed out that football is the only occasion that people have to vent her frustrations, to actively participate in something in a nation where democracy is absent. " In the atmosphere electrifying
of Khartoum, Algeria has taken his revenge waiting 20 years. However, it was Egypt to create the first chance of the match on Tuesday, with the header from Emad Moteab, who scored the goal "out of time" for three days before, but Fawzi Chaouchi, according to Algerian goalkeeper in the field instead of Lounes Gaouaoui disqualified, rejected. The match was tense nervous. After 2 minutes Nadir Belhadj is cautioned for a foul on Ahmed Muhamad. Two rounds of the clock and a foul on Ahmed Hassan sets off a brawl in the game before half header by Abdel Zaher El Sakka's corner Mohamed Aboutrika. The Algeria begins to attack by fifteen minutes but the shot from inside the penalty area Yahia is blocked by El Hadari. The game continues without but not too much fluid without excessive drop in pace. The half-hour El Hadary is forced to raise free kick in a corner, the gearbox in front of Al Muhammadi Algerian forces the goalkeeper to the deviation in angle. The balance breaks down to 40 '. Ziani on the right and run forward Yahia: his conclusion on the fly is elusive for El Hadari. Algeria is in the lead. The audience celebrated with fireworks.
interval Egyptian coach Shehata sent on midfielder Hosni Abd Rabo and striker Mohamed Zidan. But the best bargains are for the Foxes of the Desert, which in the second half trying to slow down the pace of the game before leaving with a fast break. The race migioir action is initiated by Hassan Yebda that draws a perfect cross to Ghezzal Abdelkader, but his header is central. El Hadari has to intervene again, the shot from close of Saifi. The
contains Algeria and again until the final whistle, which seals the return of the Desert Foxes on the main world stage, after two appearances in 1982, when they managed to beat the then West Germany finalist, and 1986.
throughout Algeria Celebrate, celebrate immigrants in the suburbs of Paris and Marseille, celebrated in the Gaza Strip, where the green and white flags are everywhere, in the name of a common battle against the pan-Arabism of Egyptian origin. "How can you cheer for those Arab brothers in their time of need that we close the border crossings?" Said a boy at a local television station. Better then to cheer for the Algeriadi Mohammed Aboutreika a few days after Operation Lead Time, launched by the Israeli army between December 2008 and January 2009 to weaken the presence of Hamas in the Strip, he celebrated a goal of showing solidarity with a T-shirt Gaza.
The match is over, at least in the field. You just have to wait and see if, in the mother of all matches, the defeat Egypt is only one stop sports or a premonition, an epiphany of the fate of pan-Arabism.