Saturday, November 14, 2009

Egypt, Algeria Will Play It Again

This already was too intense.

And now?

Things were on the verge of chaos before Egypt and Algeria met in their Africa Group C finale tonight, with a berth in South Africa 2010 at stake.

Three Algerian players were injured when their team bus was pelted by stones on the way from the airport to the hotel. An event that sparked outrage in Algeria and, at first, complete denials in Egypt (and a rather shameful media report that the Algerians had trashed their own bus) ...

That was followed by Fifa warning Egypt to take care of security, the sort of blunt "you better get this right" threat that the world governing body rarely issues. And Egypt giving up its "we didn't do nothin' " stance and promising to provide unprecedented security to the Algerians.

And for more "fun" ... Algerians attacked an Egyptian work camp, in Algeria, and looted their quarters.

Hmm. Soccer War II, anyone?

And now ... with Egypt scoring in the final seconds of the fifth extra-time minute, to win 2-0 in Cairo ... Algeria and Egypt are in an exact tie in the Group C standings, and will have a one-match playoff to determine a place in the 2010 finals ... on Wednesday at Omdurman, Sudan.

Egypt and Algeria, bitter rivals in soccer. Who (outside of north Africa) knew?

The match had generated such strong emotion among fans of the two teams ... that here in Abu Dhabi, all the way across the Arabian Peninsula from Egypt, Egyptian expats were driving up and down the streets honking horns and waving flags two hours after the match was over.

So, yes, they get to play it again.

Sudan is a neutral site, but it is Egypt's preferred neutral site. When Fifa figured out that the teams could end in a absolute tie, it opted for the extra game and asked the combatants (uh, contestants) where they would like to play it. Algeria preferred Tunisia.

And the draw to decide who got their choice was so closely watched that the fifa.com web site posted a series of photos to the process, intended to show that it was on the up and up.

Bizarre.

You almost wonder, now, if the best way to approach the playoff game, on Wednesday, is to close the stadium. Allow the players and media in, but no fans. But show it on television, of course.

Four European teams will play their way into the World Cup on Wednesday, as will one from the Western Hemisphere ... but the single hottest match would appear to be Algeria and Egypt. In the Sudan.

3 comments:

  1. you got that right - if you figure out where to watch it live let me know - and consider blogging it if the same feed is not available here

    ReplyDelete
  2. Happy new year.2010
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    ReplyDelete