Battle of Omdurman: Egypt or Algeria, the Sudanese called to choose
KHARTOUM - "Pharaohs" or "Fennec"? The Sudanese are expected to choose their sides in the context of Egypt-Algeria decisive match Wednesday for the qualification to the World cup-2010 which is one of the most important meetings to be held in the country in nearly 40 years.
- This historic meeting will be more scrutinized than the Saturday night match won by Egypt in Cairo (2-0) before 70,000 spectators, which has been marred by violence against the Algerian team and fans respectively before and after the match.
At the end of Egypt-Algeria match, Emad Meteab has brought joy to tens of thousands of Sudanese addicted to football by scoring the second goal of the "Pharaohs", synonymous to the decisive match in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, on the Nile West Bank.
But if the celebrations were upbeat in Egyptian cafes in Khartoum, the bet remain open on the allegiance of the Sudanese.
"I hope that Algeria will win," said Ahmed, a supporter of the Sudanese club Al-Merreikh which stadium of some 40,000 seats will host the match on Wednesday.
"I think the Sudanese are going to support Egypt because both countries have historical relations. Also, it was Egypt who requested that the match be played in Sudan", said Abdelmajid Abdelraziq, director of sports pages of the great Sudanese newspaper "al-rayy al-aam (public opinion).
"Despite these reasons, there will be many supporters of Algeria", he added.
5 to 10,000 Algerian supporters
The Algerian supporters rushed to the offices of Air Algeria, which will allow 5,000 to 10,000 people, attend the meeting.
Moreover, if Cairo is a traditional ally of Khartoum, relations between the two countries bordering the Nile do not flow from the source, the Sudanese who sometimes feel disrespected by Egyptian cousins.
Egypt of Mohammed Ali Pasha had colonized Sudan in 1820 on behalf of the Ottoman Empire, marking the beginning of the period of "Turkiyya" which the "Mahdi", a famous Sudanese Muslim revolutionary ended in 1885.
In Khartoum, "we will feel at home. Sudan is a friendly country; we will not be greeted with stones as in Cairo, declared to a public Algerian radio President of the Algerian Football Federation (FAF), Mohamed Raouraoua.
"All is not lost: there is the rendezvous of Khartoum, a neutral ground, away from the insults and malicious acts, cheap shots and dirty tricks," stated the editor of the Algerian newspaper Liberte, in reference to the overflows in Cairo.
But Gasim Khalid, of the sports newspaper al-Hilal of Sudan, expressed an opposite view.
»fans will support the Egyptians who will play in Sudan as if they were in Cairo. There will be no difference," he predicts.
Both teams will arrive Sunday in Khartoum, said a senior official of the Sudanese Federation of football. "The security teams will be as in any other international match," he said.
Sudan, the largest African country, has never participated in a final phase of the World Cup. But the qualifying games for the World Cup are held regularly in Khartoum, and Sudan won at home the African Cup of Nations (CAN) in 1970.
Hostility, Wednesday, could ultimately come down to the weather; heat is still raging on the Sudanese capital.
Ennaharonline/ M. O.