Tonight is the night. The anticipation for this game has been building over the past few weeks - tonight will determine Egypt's fate in the African World Cup. The game...Egypt vs. Algeria... The setting, Cairo's Nasr City. The rivalry...Through the roof.
So people have been talking about this game for the past few weeks, but today, it's pretty much all anybody has to talk about. My ride to work this morning was, lets say, a unique experience! I was asking around yesterday as to where the heated rivalry between Egypt and Algeria comes from, but it seemed as though nobody was able to provide me with a satisfactory answer. Instead it was more along the lines of "well, we're told we're supposed to hate them, so we do!" Of course, I can't handle such a vague answer, and after one simple Google search found out that the history of this rivalry dates back twenty years, when Egypt beat Algeria 1-0 and a riot ensued. Since then, neither team has qualified for the Cup.
To proceed directly forward in the Cup, Egypt must beat Algeria by three goals. Should they only beat the Algerian team by two goals, a re-match will be held in a neutral country. But enough about the logistics behind the game, I'm here to talk about Cairo!!!
The last time that I was in Egypt for a huge football match was the infamous match against Italy, and for this I was in Hurghada. This of course, means that I didn't really experience the fervour of the game as I can see it today. Driving around the streets of Cairo at the moment, the air is electrified. It is one of the few times where class and distinction in the city dissipate, and everyone joins together as Egyptians. Cars are adorned with flags, ranging from the white microbusses and 1970 Lada's, to the new and expensive Mercedes CLK, BMW's, vegetable trucks and vans, and regular family vehicles. Everywhere you look, you're met with Red, White and Black. On my commute along the commute, I saw a microbus that was covered from front to back with a flag that must have been about 8 meters long, as it drapped the entire thing, leaving the only point of visibility the windscreen. People were gathered in the streets, groups of boys were waving their flags at oncoming traffic and banging tabla's, adding to the extreme electricity that is coursing through the city. Beeping has intensified three fold; Cairo is now a racously loud place - brimming with nationalism and pride in the Egyptian team (I swear - even the horses pulling carriages looked PROUD today!!!).
Of course as is typical in any anticipated game, scalpers are abound. The original ticketed price to the match was 15 LE (a meager 3 dollars or so). Naturally, tickets were selling like hot cakes, leaving a window of opportunity wide open to profit on them. By Wednesday of last week, tickets had increased in price to 100 LE, by yesterday they were selling at upwards of 300 LE. Talk about a massive spike! I won't be braving the 80,000 capacity stadium today, but will be showing my support for Egypt from my friend's living room, cheering on the TV and succumbing to the overall excitement that accompanies any Egyptian match.
So for today I say, YALLA MASR!