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Tensions high in Khartoum ahead of Egypt-Algeria rematch

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-11-18

Bitter football rivals Algeria and Egypt meet in Sudan for a re-match of last weekend's World Cup qualifier that spilled into violence in both Cairo and Algiers.

Sudan is preparing for trouble ahead of the rematch between bitter football rivals Algeria and Egypt that turned violent on the streets of Cairo and Algiers at the weekend.

Dozens of fans were hurt after Saturday's World Cup qualifier, which Egypt won 2-0, forcing a playoff match at a neutral venue.

The bus carrying the Algerian team was stoned by Egyptian fans, and after the game, rival fans battled each other in both countries' capitals, and Egyptian businesses in Algiers were ransacked.

The day before Wednesday's decider, Algerian football federation head Mohammed Raouraoua blamed his Egyptian counterpart Samir Zaher for the violence.

"He is the origin of all the events that have occurred," he said. "I refuse to shake the hand of someone who is behind all that happened in Cairo, because it was he who ... called on his supporters to make the ground shake under the feet of the Algerian delegation."


But Egypt meanwhile stepped up its complaints against a spate of attacks on its interests in Algeria.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit told state news agency MENA that he had told his Algerian counterpart Mourad Medelci his government must confront the "saboteurs."

FRANCE 24's Egypt correspondent Ygal Saadoun said Egyptians accuse Algeria of over-emphasising  the stoning of the Algerian team bus in order to escalate tensions between the two countries.
“Egypt accuses Algeria of going too far," he said. “Egyptians are sure the attack against the bus of the Algeria national team was either a myth or orchestrated by Algerian in order to give a bad image of Egypt”

Bad blood

The North African rivals have a history of bad blood, with riots breaking out after Egypt defeated Algeria in a 1989 match in Cairo.

Khartoum state governor Abdelrahman al-Khidr said he was expecting 48 flights from Algeria and 18 from Egypt, with a further 2,000 fans from neighbouring Egypt travelling to the game by road.

The Sudanese capital has not seen such a football pilgrimage since it hosted the African Nations Cup in 1970, and is unaccustomed to major international events.

Planeloads of Algerian fans turned the arrivals lounge at the airport into a sea of green and white.

Ticket to ride 

Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party handed out 2,000 free match tickets to under-30s, accompanied by free transport and accommodation.

Hotels in the Sudanese capital were already fully booked on Tuesday and the authorities have set up two separate camp sites for the rival fans.

Algeria and Egypt have each been allocated 9,000 seats for the game in the Al-Merreikh stadium in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman. The normal capacity of 41,000 has been cut to 35,000 to allow for strict segregation of the fans.

Egypt last qualified for the World Cup in 1990, and Algeria in 1986.


Date created : 2009-11-18


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