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Fierce rivalries set to dominate semi-finals

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Piers Edwards | 08:46 UK time, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Many spectators attending Sunday's quarter-final in Luanda were surprised to be handed condoms upon entry - with the donors perhaps mindful of how an earlier victory had prompted some Angolans to parade naked through the streets.

Either way, the message seemed to be - "Make love, not war" - which, even though the Ghanaians punctured their hosts' happy bubble, was timely.

For last night, Egypt beat Cameroon 3-1 to set up a repeat of their intense World Cup play-off against bitter foes Algeria, a game that sparked outbreaks of violence and enormous tensions across the Arab world.

Hours later, Nigeria also ensured they would face their arch-rivals, Ghana, when scraping through on penalties against a Zambian side playing to maximum capacity under coach Herve Renard.

Which means that two of Africa's biggest rivalries dominate Thursday's semis: an all-West African clash followed by the North African one. And there's no doubt which will attract the most attention.

For November's play-off between these fiercest of rivals forced the planet to sit up and take notice, especially after three Algerian players were hit by some of the hundreds of stones aimed at their bus upon arrival in Egypt for a decisive qualifier.

Fifa even confirmed the incident but - amazingly - forced Algeria to play, an unimaginable situation had the same thing happened to John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney ahead of a make-or-break World Cup qualifier.

"Fifa told us we would forfeit the match if we didn't play, so we had to," says coach Rabah Saadane. "What I learnt from those matches was that football must stay within the confines of sport, for if it enters the realm of politics it becomes dangerous - very dangerous."

This was patently clear for once the patched-up Algerians lost 2-0 in Cairo, the teams had to play-off to reach South Africa. And the 'Desert Foxes' took all in extraordinary circumstances in neutral Sudan, with 15,000 police in attendance and thousands of fans locked out.

Egypt's players celebrate their quarter-final victory over Cameroon
Egypt's players celebrate their quarter-final victory over Cameroon

In Benguela, Saadane's men will meet an Egyptian side on the hottest streak in Nations Cup history - 17 games without defeat (which came, against, who else? Algeria!) - and with a midfielder setting his own records.

Ahmed Hassan did journalists a big favour when scoring against Cameroon yesterday, because his Africa-best caps tally, near the world record of 177 (blog editor - there has been some confusion about the world record but we are now going with 181, by Mohamed Al Deayea, after the Guinness World Records emailed in during one of our live text commentaries), had been unclear (even after the BBC had contacted Fifa). But as Hassan brandished a T-shirt with the number '170' on it, all was (seemingly) put to rest.

This is the sides' fourth clash in eight months - with Algeria winning two, Egypt one - and as the results show, the rivals are closer in quality than either might like to admit: especially Egyptian fans, whose team may be six-time African champions but still couldn't qualify for Africa's first World Cup.

While the on-field battle will captivate, so may the battle in the press box. Algerian journalists would make 'those Scottish fans with typewriters' seem almost neutral, shouting at the tops of their voices while flying Algerian flags (Egypt's have also been in media areas).

In November, Algerian fans flew to Khartoum in their thousands as the country and diaspora - whipped up by their players' treatment in Cairo - united behind the national flag. And at the time of writing, that appears to be happening again.

It's debatable whether the Angolans will be there themselves, for their continued attendance is unclear following the Palancas Negras' exit (one which was celebrated in Togo). No such worries about the Black Stars followers - 50 of whom have been holing up in the Ghana Embassy's compound.

Fully understanding Angola's extreme prices - six dollars for a can of coke, with 3-star hotel rooms costing well over US$400 per night - the Ambassador has kindly put up the fans (either sleeping in the building or in tents in the garden), who clatter and clang each morning as breakfast is made with the pots and pans at their disposal.

Ghana's rivalry with Nigeria is often labelled Africa's biggest, but this row seems more heated off the pitch than on it - and is, thankfully, a battle that comes with more humour and good-natured ribbing than the North African one.

Ironically, some Nigerians will have mixed emotions about reaching the semis because they had wanted a new coach. But making the last four means coach Shaibu Amodu will lead the Super Eagles at the World Cup, even if his stay of execution came from winning football's form of Russian roulette.

Now, I'm writing this blog on the road to Benguela, which is hosting the Egypt v Algeria semi, and having left Luanda for the first time - and what a pleasure it is!

Driving anywhere in the Angolan capital is like to trying to get an interview with the Nigerians - very hard work - as it takes hours to get anywhere. By way of example, I left central Luanda last week some three hours before Angola played Algeria, time enough you may think to travel just over 10 miles but not so - as I missed kick-off despite finishing my journey on the back of a friendly fan's moped.

For the locals, that traffic won't be a problem any more - nor, for visiting journalists, will the sight of naked Angolan men nor, more probably, the blown-up condoms flying through Luanda's stadium.

However, while travelling down, as one of our number tried to relieve himself in the bushes by the side of the road, the cries of our driver were frantic in the extreme - a reminder of Angola's troubled past and how many still live in fear of the thousands of unexploded mines.


  • Comment number 1.

    Would be gutted if i was Egyptian and lost again to Algeria again. Anyway, although they started bad, Algeria look good now, and more threatening to us in the world cup

  • Comment number 2.

    I think I've made this comment before on the BBC's reporting on this African Nations Cup .... Poor
    Its not so much the quantity of the reporting that is bad but the accuracy of information ....
    Piers just to compliment your article for sake of giving it at least a subtle scent of neutrality in addition to giving the readers some colour on the Algeria - Egypt rivalry

    This actually started in 1989 when in Cairo a 1-0 win for Egypt put them through to only their second world cup campiagn in their history. This came at the expense of an Algerian team dubbed at the time "the golden generation" the events that followed turned the Algeria - EGypt relationship on its toes

    Members of the Egyptian coaching staff were attacked by Algerian players. This resulted in an Egyptian team doctor losing his eye and a warrant for a certain Algerian players arrest

    This defeat was still lingering in the memory when Egypt travelled to Algeria for their first game in the WCQ earlier in June this year. Apon the arrival of the Egyptian team, the Algerians made sure they made their feeling felt. Eye witnesses reported hundreds of Algerians beating to the sound of drums outside the Egyptian hotel on the eve of the game

    The penulitmate game of the group (October 2009) ended with Egypt defeating Zambia to set up a tense final game with Algeria

    The run-up to the game served as the clearest indicator of the emergence of irresponsible journalism from both Algerian and Egyptian media. Rumours of attacks on eitherside emerged pre-game setting the tone for the game with Algeria as one of a full blown out war with harsh words being shared from both sides to get the mind games stirring

    Both sides got their wish on the 14th of Novemeber with the immense provovation reaching its climax where in the return game the EGyptians took such hostilities one step further. Lack security around the Algerian delegation arrival in EGypt allowed for Egyptians holligans to raid the Algerian team bus with stones... Despite minor injuries the game went ahead

    All credit to FIFA for being able to extend this rivalry with the decision that if the game finished with an Egyptian victory of 2 goals a playoff would need to decide the game!!!!
    Head to Head results were thrown out of the window so a playoff was required after Egypt scored a late late 2nd goal

    The events that unfolded in Sudan are as I see it a result of FIFA, Egypt and Algerians negiligence . A playoff game should not have been resorted to especially in a country which can barely keep its own country in order

    Hundreds of fans from both countries swarmmed the Sudan. One interesting point of note - Sudan tradesmen say that within the two days before the game they sold out of knives and batons

    This boiled over at the end of the game with media reporting of attacks on Egyptian fans trying to make their way back to Cairo

    All in all the rivarly has become a lot more than a football game... Im sure Thursday's encounter will be no different

    As an ending note - BBC if your gonna report on the ACN 2010 - Do it properly !!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Post 2, your comment:
    Its not so much the quantity of the reporting that is bad but the accuracy of information ....

    All credit to FIFA for being able to extend this rivalry with the decision that if the game finished with an Egyptian victory of 2 goals a playoff would need to decide the game!!!!
    Head to Head results were thrown out of the window so a playoff was required after Egypt scored a late late 2nd goal

    I think you will find that the accuracy of your comment is faulty too. Head to Head of Algeria and Egypt was not thrown out of the window by FIFA!
    They were both level on goals difference, goals scored and head-2-head (both matches were 2-0 results). There was no way to separate the two hence the play-off match.
    At least make your case solid enough before you critisize.

  • Comment number 4.

    Too me, this game will show the level to which African soccer has gone. Ten years ago, the African Cup of Nations was a show piece of physique, athletism and poor finishing! Todate, the African game has greatly improved with great skills, quality passing and good game reading. No wonder, giants like Ivory coast, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana have not had a smoooth ride! What we miss to see are traits of creative midefiledrs like Jay-Jay Okotcha!

    With Algeria pitted against Egypt we shall see a blend of attack and defence! What is purturbing though, is why such hooliganism is being politicised!

  • Comment number 5.

    Psychoarsenalysis, It's interesting you're correcting someone's information with wrong info.

    The game in algeria finished 3-1, while the Cairo game finished 2-0.

    In any other competition or year, Egypt should ve gone through on head to head.


  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think you will find that the accuracy of your comment is faulty too. Head to Head of Algeria and Egypt was not thrown out of the window by FIFA!
    They were both level on goals difference, goals scored and head-2-head (both matches were 2-0 results). There was no way to separate the two hence the play-off match.

    You too have not been accurate with your stats. the Algeria v Egypt game in Algiers ended 3-1 to Algeria and then Egypt won 2-0 in cairo. So on that evidence Egypt should have gone through on the basis that all the stats were similar (goals,points) and that they scored a goal away from home. However Fifa decided that was not the case and so the neutral game was played in the Sudan.

    This again shows the inconsistency within CAF/FIFA as we saw with the debacle of Mali in the group stages and the eventual standings of the group that Cameroon and Zambia were in.

  • Comment number 8.

    Post 2, your comment:
    > .. Despite minor injuries the game went ahead

    Are you for real ? If that was England, as Piers pointed out, then FIFA would not have allowed this game to go ahead.

    Post 2, your comment:
    >A playoff game should not have been resorted to especially in a country >which can barely keep its own country in order


    The accuracy of your information is wrong here too. Egypt & Algeria had a choice of two venues for the playoff Tunisia or the Sudan. Egypt was totally against Tunisia (obviously) so they preferred the Sudan. Algeria prefferred Tunisia but agreed to the Sudan.

    Post 2, your comment:
    >This boiled over at the end of the game with media reporting of attacks >on Egyptian fans trying to make their way back to Cairo
    >I also feel that your comments are biased (you are probably egyptian)


    Most of these report turned out to be false, made by fans sitting in Cafe's in Cairo and not in the Sudan!! The Egpytian media should take all the blame for this one I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 9.

    To Psychoarsenalysis

    The info mentioned at post 2 is accurate.

    Egypt's away match in Algeria ended 1:3 to Algeria; whilst, the home match was won 2:0. (i.e. Egypt scored an away goal with aggregate score of 3:3)…..Accordingly, if FIFA and CAF were "Fair"; Egypt would have qualified directly.

    On the other hand, Algeria qualified to CAN quarter finals instead of Mali because of the direct encounter between them ended 1:0 in favor of the Algerians!!!!!!!

    What a waste………….

    I believe rules are being bent to favor the Algerians……….

  • Comment number 10.

    FIFA uses goal difference in WCQ while CAF uses head rule before goal difference no disparity.

  • Comment number 11.

    Thoroughly interesting reading from all parties so far in this thread, more importantly, is this the game being shown on BBC3?

  • Comment number 12.

    Andy, yes the match is being shown on BBC 3 from 19:00 tomorrow.

  • Comment number 13.

    Post 2, your comment:
    Its not so much the quantity of the reporting that is bad but the accuracy of information ....

    All credit to FIFA for being able to extend this rivalry with the decision that if the game finished with an Egyptian victory of 2 goals a playoff would need to decide the game!!!!
    Head to Head results were thrown out of the window so a playoff was required after Egypt scored a late late 2nd goal

    I think you will find that the accuracy of your comment is faulty too. Head to Head of Algeria and Egypt was not thrown out of the window by FIFA!
    They were both level on goals difference, goals scored and head-2-head (both matches were 2-0 results). There was no way to separate the two hence the play-off match.
    At least make your case solid enough before you critisize.
    I will respond here, 1st leg Alg 3 Egy 1; 2nd leg EGY 2 Alg 0. But FIFA made it clear that a 2-0 scoreline will result in a play-off as it did. The incident about Belumi injuring the Egyptian team doctor actually happened in Algeria and that was why he was sentenced in absentia, the sentence was only lifted before the first leg of this WC qualifiers. I enjoy their rivalry and I just can't wait for Thursday evening. Please, pay more attention to the facts. There as some of us with astute memory and it demeans your corporation if you take facts lightly.

  • Comment number 14.

    @ No 2,

    Omar, was Bilel Dziri part of the "Golden Generation"? We used to call him Zidane because of his bald patch and strikingly-similar physical features.

  • Comment number 15.

    We wouldn't be having this conversation if politicians and mediocre media coverage in both Algiers and Cairo stayed out of football.

    Piers has a very good point "and as the results show, the rivals are closer in quality than either might like to admit". It's plain and simple.

    The level and quality of African Football has come a long way .... very long way. It's maybe time to increase African Nations World cup participation to 6 and not 5. And have a ACN every 4 years and not two.

    Tomorrow we will have a great game with two of the best teams in Africa. May he best win ;)

  • Comment number 16.

    Algeria through history of sports play a very bad games thier strategy is to waste time if they dont have to win tne game . they dont play defense like italy style but insted they waste time through goal keeper and kicking the ball any where in the field to waste time and this way of playing made the egyptian fans very angry through the history. if you watch any game for the algerians with egypt you will know how it is frustrating for any body to watch the game being stoped every 5 min. the algerians think this kind of acting on the field is ok but they dont understand this kind of playing shows they are not capable of winning if they play like any other team. second, they broke in egyptair office in algeria and other egyptian busssniess and burned egypt flag and chessed egyptian all over algeria and france they are very wrong if they think they faked being the victim. look at the game with ivory coast how they wasted 12 minutes out of the 30 minutes extra time and the goaly after each time he act dead he stand up again and waste more time and did not get a red card....fifa should make football like basket ball when someone injured they stop the time if this rule is in effect one day algeria will not have a chance to win egypt ever again .

  • Comment number 17.

    And there you have it folks. Egyptians furious over Algerians kicking the ball anywhere, faking every 5 minutes and chessing Egyptians all over Africa and Europe. Didn't watch the Algeria-Ivory Coast match then?

    The Egyptian commentator on MBC said it was the best game he'd seen in years. He said the Algerians came back twice from behind to level the score before going ahead - showing the team has heart and isn't phased, even when the opposition takes the lead in the 89th minute. I think that would be a fair assessment for any team. Also Algeria carried on attacking till the end, in other words didn't sit on their lead.

  • Comment number 18.

    Re: post 3.
    I stand corrected on the part of 3-1 and 2-0, the two teams were basically level on all other stats in the group. But I don't think CAF/FIFA used head-2-head in any of the previous competitions, please correct me if I am wrong again. So I don't see any reason why FIFA should feel obliged to use the h-2-h ruling, apart from the obvious point of logistics and cost of replaying at a neutral venue.

    The recent head-2-head debacle in the nations cup is an absolute joke. Goals difference and goals scored should take higher priority. h-2-h does not promote playing for maximum points and gives the losing team no chance of correcting earlier one-off mistakes.

  • Comment number 19.

    Can you imagine the precedent it would have set if after the Cairo match there hadn't been a playoff? You can do anything you want to the opposing team - it can only help your chances. Very dangerous. the match should have been postpopned or played elsewhere, end of story - at least the message it sends to the fans is, if you attack the opposing team, you lose home advantage as game will be played in a neutral location. Problem solved.

  • Comment number 20.

    Egypt have never beaten Algeria outside of Egypt. Egypt have a weakened squad without Aboutrika and Zaki.

    Egypt defence is normally very poor from set pieces which as it happens is Algeria's main strength in attack. This was quite evident to see in the two legs in November.

    The only problems Algeria have is that they do take a while to settle into a game as we saw against Ivory Coast, and their finishing is dreadful. They need 5/6 chances to get a shot on goal and they need 5/6 shots on goal to actually get a goal. They usually miss at least 3/4 chances from 1 yard out every game. That is why they focus on set pieces.

    Both teams will be tired from playing 120 mins in the quarter finals.
    If Algeria score first it is hard to see Egypt coming back into the game as Bougherra and Antar Yahia are very good at closing out a match. Belhadj however likes trying fancy skills on the edge of the box and usually needs the keeper to save his blushes when he gives away possession.

    If Algeria replicate their performance against Ivory Coast there will only be one winner.

    Otherwise I can see it going to penalties considering how closely matched the two sides were in WCQ.

    One thing is for sure though, whoever wins will batter Ghana in the final.

  • Comment number 21.

    Egypt did not deserve to go the world cup based on the behaviour of the fans...and media. I was a neutral until I saw the attacked players.

    Other countries would have been punished for that incident. Security of visiting players should always be paramount.

    Algeria earned there spot at the WC and even the result of tomorrow's match will not dispel the fact.

  • Comment number 22.

    algeria got lucky again with the mistake of the referee counting a goal for ivory coast as off side i think fifa should use tv replay in the future because algeria should not been the winner dond feel bad ivories because you played like a champs not wasting time like the algerians after they scored ..........

  • Comment number 23.

    egypt is the champs of africa for 6 six times and this is a record and will win algeria because the record speaksfor it self............

  • Comment number 24.

    flyby600, you Egyptian per chance mate? Cos that sounds like the voice of a seriously bitter person...I for one make a point of watching the African Nations Cup and indeed any televised football, and I can't find a single valid point about the Algerian style of play you describe.
    Apart from being dismal against Malawi, they didn't cheat, play act, waste time, or roll around crying.
    I will be rooting for Algeria, hope Belhadj hits a 40-yard screamer to win it so you can complain about the new ball they use moving too much or something. Oh yeah and that is the adidas Jabulani, the very same you will see in the WC2010 in SA. Happy scoring!
    PS Anyone think this 'unknown' quantity, the new ball, has not been smashed nearly hard enough at goalkeepers in this tournament?

  • Comment number 25.

    Sami, your comment is clearly more biased than the comment Omar made. Atleast Omar (if you read his comment carefully) will say that both sides have made mistakes. You on the other hand have blamed everything on the Egyptians while infact it was both countries faults for allowing such hoolaganism to get out of control.

    Lets start by mentioning the doctor blinding incident, yes many of us didnt know about this before, but politically if Algeria didnt take responsibility for their player which they didnt, why should Egypt now take responsibility for the stoning. To me its you reap what you sow.

    Secondly lets not kid ourselves and make it seem that the Algerian media stayed quiet. I dont know what news channels did you follow but it had to be the most respectable network as I assure you the algerian ones i followed were nothing of the sort.

    You say they greeted the team with flowers, i say ok, but what about the drumming and honking and disturbing our team before the game, does that not play into the psyche of the egyptian players?

    What do you have to say about the Algerian media AND players claiming that they do not care about qualifying to the World Cup as long as they beat Egypt in Algeria. That clearly shows a lot of brotherly love sported by the Algerians! What about the endless taunting by the Algerians after the win and upto the second match in Cairo where they were too cocky claiming that we have no chance of beating them and were congratulating themselves on qualifying.

    Moving on to the stoning incident,yes it did happen. Well what about the damage caused by the Algerian hooligans to Egyptian properties and the assualts on Egyptians living in failed to mention those as well. You are clearly more affected by your media than you would like to admit.

    Also please do some research when you talk about the economies of both countries. Yes Egypt is impoverished but so is Algeria. Egypt is the second largest economy in Africa! Egypt had a higher economic growth with respect to Algeria in 2009 (4.5% vs 3.4%) as shown in the CIA factbook. GDP per capita is higher for Algeria being $7,100 vs $6,000 but that is nothing to be proud of considering your country primarily depends on hydrocarbons while Egypt has a way more diverse economy and has a way larger population.

    You see if Algerians had any multinational companies in Egypt maybe we would have retaliated and damaged their properties but alas unfortunately there is no such thing as an Algerian multinational. I could go on and on and on about Egypt, and you can bet since Egypt has the richer history, there will be a lot of one ups!

    Lastly, dont get me wrong by my message, I have nothing against Algerians and I do believe they are my brothers but I can not stand people who just blame one side when its clear that both sides had aggressors(just like how i cant stand Egyptians who say that Algerians faked the stoning incident). Goodluck to Algeria in the WC(although we should have qualified on head to head) but we are winning tomorrow inshallah.


  • Comment number 26.

    Fellow bloggers. Take a chill pill

    We are all passionate about football and its safe to say we are the real fans behind our national teams.
    If us educated few dont act with dignity and respect these kind of horric scenes between these two great countries will continue to exist

    Dont spoil the great occassion that is the SF of the ACN by taking turns to mock each other . Neither was I out of line nor intimadating .

    Sami: politics has no role to play here and intimidating the other side is pointless... Dont let superiority complex's get the better of you

    SaLync said it best. This isnt our war guys ... Its the media's

    So let us concentrate on the football and celebrate the occassion for what it is ... The African nations Cup Semi-Final pitting together two of the greatest teams to have graced African football since its inception

    Sami just so you can be on the same page with what happened in Sudan by ALgerian fans pick any link you like from the below....

  • Comment number 27.

    the champs dond complain my are frustrated codzie85 because the fact is egypt won the last 2 african cups and will win the 3 rd .that is no luck my friend that is dedication and good team work and if u want to know where i am from i am egyptian fan mate and i will celebrate the win over algeria and dont your mind take you far away .egyptian will always stay with their team lets see if algeria can match egypt record one day .

  • Comment number 28.

    My comments is for "sami". mate people have been trying to discuss the match from a footballing prespective and try to understand the rivalry between our nations. wich goeas back adges ago. either you're in your teen years or your not intrested in the truth to start protraying the Algerian supporters as being vectimized in that sense. every single match between Egypt and Algeria have ended up in a farce and a fight bth in Cairo and Algeers am not proud of it but that is the truth. what happened to the Egyptian team players Bus in Annaba some years ago. and if you were to young to now or your media didn't tell you the truth, in 1989 your popular player Akhdar Balloumy had an interpole warrant issued against him and the Algerian gov. wouldn't expediate him and he wasn't able to travel outside Algeria for at least 20 years for damaging the eyesight of an Egyptian doctor that was staying in the same hotel after the wrold cup qualifier in 89.
    How many supporters have died in matches in the Algerian league recently?
    so get over yourself and admit that it had always been the case regarding high profile matches in that part of the world. am not approving it am just being true to myself.
    As for the political and economic jargon you've just mistakingly mentioned (no wonder you get your sources from wikkipedia). i have some requests from you;
    1- get your facts checked about Egypt's natural gas reserves
    2- get your facts staraight about the nation with the best economic growth rate in the past five years in the region.
    3-why did you fail to mention that the Egyptians have built your first hotel in your capital " Orasi" when your engineers have misrably failed to complete the project and the french bailed oout on you.
    4- whay have you failed to mention that you have three mobile phones operators , and the largest is Egypeian"djezzy"
    Why have you failed to mention that that the biggest fertilizers green field factory and most recent in "Oran" is done with an Egyptian investment
    5_ where is your income from tourism? or do you just have natural gas and oil
    6- i just came back from a business trip to Algeria, and where is the spend on Infrastructure and Educatioin, how many universities do you have?
    7_ if we have the most loathed regime, why have you spend the last 20 years fighting each other internally and living in fear

    what i'm trying to say that you talk from eyes tainted with the colours of your flag and media controlled by a regime that have been there for the past 20 years or so( same as Egypt) so try to get your facts right and be more objective and understand that the whole thing is about what football means to our nations

    Check your history books and see what nations helped you most in your fight for independance, cause i have checked mine and have seen that you have helped us really well with our war with the Israili's in 73.

    so let's focus on the football for now and leave the political popularity contest to some other time.

  • Comment number 29.

    I would just like to remind PIERS with his expectations before the start of the tournament. He chose Ivory coast as the winner. That surely was the easy but the wrong answer. As I said before, Ivory Coast didnt face a strong team since they lost to Egypt in Ghana 2008. They got kicked out by Algeria who played their best game in the tournament and certainly deserve their place in the semi final. I am Egyptian by the way but will surely support Algeria in the WC. I expected them to be the dark horse of the tournament and I was proven right. One of the unfavourites team who made it to the semi. One point to make though, three teams were qualified to the quarter finals played at the same WC qualifying group Egypt/Algeria/Zambia. Does this say something about the seeding of the teams in Africa by CAF?????

  • Comment number 30.

    Hooligans exist everywhere but only in Egypt will you see a group of (wait for it)lawyers burn a country's flag in front of its embassy. Aside from that the true champions in this CAN are the Ivoirians. They got a vital decision against them and still accepted defeat gracefully and even wished good luck to their conquerors. And I say to bragging Egyptians, you won 2 cups when only Sudan and Ethiopia participated, and their football was even worse than it is now. You won 2 more on penalties at home. Why didn't you win it in 1980? Oh yeah, lost to us in semi. 2004? lost to us in group stage. 1984? lost again.

  • Comment number 31.

    I believe both sides should really stop writting silly comments. Life goes on. Both countries deserve a place at the WC so it was Algeria in the end. I wish them luck in WC and i hope we watch a great game of football tomorrow night.

  • Comment number 32.

    To all Egyptians with their misinformation on the nature of rivalry and when it started, it did not start as many of you wrote in 1989, it was well before that, in 1970's when one if algeria's top teams at the times was stoned with bottles in the Cairo stadium.

    The Egyptians are good at throwing oil on fire and play the victim, you guys just played with fire and got burned as you did not think you could pay for the consequences. I am not encouraging the hate and fighting between two nations because of a game, but when person attacks someone on all fronts he should bear the reprecussions and learn from it.

    But you Egyptians do not seam to learn from your mistakes. Just as Khaddafi said to the president of the Arab league and Egypts foreign minister when they asked him to meadiate between the two nations, "Why did you let your kids mess with a sleeping Lion."

    So to keep it short, keep your faulty information to yourselves and try to figure out what you guys are doing wrong to be hated by about every single African nation and arab nation on this planet. Because to have problems with Algeria only, I could say the Algerians could be the faulty side, but Egypt has problems with morocco, Tunisia, Libia, Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and so and on, the list is just too large to type.

  • Comment number 33.

    I'll be supporting Algeria in this match and the final. I spent a week in Marseilles a couple of years ago with a mate of mine. We were advised not to venture into the Arab quarter during the evening, so promptly decided that was our first port of call. We had a great time, adopted our own local bar and got on great with the very friendly locals, mostly of Algerian origin, but also some Morrocan. The old lady who owned the bar even ended up inviting us to join her and her family for a meal of cous cous - we took this as a great honour for a couple of drunken Scots tourists.

    So, 'mon Algeria!

  • Comment number 34.

    @ dz-spirit

    Only Algerians (wait for it) would burn and loot supermarkets in France even after winning the playoff

    @ djidjel

    Another person with the misinformation, who only acts as a victim yet accepts no blame, a lot of Egyptians accept blame but why cant we see the same from your side.

    Regarding your comments that have no basis of truth whatsoever saying that Egyptians are hated by all Africans and Arabs on the planet. Can you please provide evidence? Unlike Algeria, Egypt is a leader in the region and in Africa and has always been since the time of the Pharaohs. People have issues with the politics of our president regarding the Gaza situation, but the people of Egypt are against those same politics. Another fact is that there is no Arab country more than Egypt that has sent its countrymen to their death in support of their fellow Palestinian brothers. How has Algeria ever contributed as much as Egypt to either Pan-Arabism or the Palestinian cause.

    Regarding the African subject, you are very opinionated. Probably unlike you, I have a LOT of African friends. Never has it come about that they HATE Egypt or the Egyptians. And why should they, we are too far away for them to concern themselves with us.

    Although one should note that the French seem to despise the Algerians and another fact that is known across the Arab world is that Algerians are by far the most violent in the region....scuffles in Algeria,France and Spain reported even after winning the playoff....and that my friend is what is known.

    Algerian fans you should try to look at it from a more objective sense, yes we made mistakes but you are definately no angels either...

    Lastly Khaddafi is a fool that only you would take his comments to mean anything....

  • Comment number 35.

    Furthermore football is a sport that rides on emotions, it is the emotions that come with it that make it the beautifull game. Keep the nationalistic emotions in check and the game will pass alright, with Algeria hopefully as the winners and the Egyptians getting a chance to go home in honner instead as sore losers as they did in Khartoum.

    The African Cup of Nations needs supporters that love football and what it expresses, as a feast, progress and celebration of the continents major sport event, not a campaign as dubbed by many of the Egyptians to show their delusional ideas of superiority and domination of the continent. It's time to wake up and smell the coffee.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    you guys just got paid back in tenfold, you just asked for it and keep on asking it seems. Just keep quiet and watch the game from your seets cause the situation does not need much to explode and believe me the Egyptians will lose again on every domain.

  • Comment number 38.

    Eqypt are a quality side, no doubt. Better that Algeria overall, so congratulations to Algeria for getting through the play-offs. Well done. Eqypt would have had a better chance of doing well in South Africa, but that's football.

    I must say, I also thought Algeria were guilty of the most blatant time-wasting against Ivory Coast. The keeper especially was angling for an Oscar. Pathetic, bad sportsmanship. It would have been better for the tournament if the Ivorians had won. Again, that's football.

    Looking forward to the game.

    PS. Some of the posters on here are very funny. Don't stop now.

  • Comment number 39.


    Dry your legs, mate, it's only a game.

  • Comment number 40.


    it is more than just a game it is more than death and life. i quote Mohamed Zidan this afternoon.

  • Comment number 41.

    Lawyers vs french unemployed youths looking for an excuse to riot, nothing to do with us. And please leave economics and politics aside because both countries have nothing to boast about. Both came up 111th in a corruption league table (no play off here). You have the same President since 1981 (29 years), one of his sons will be taking over soon. We have the same nomenclatura since 1962, the goalposts keep getting moved to suit the rulers. If we were't economically, politically and culturally bankrupt we would not be falling out over a football game.

    To Karim
    We need more true footy fans like you. Keep it up.

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi Piers,

    This is not the first time the stoning of buses happens between those two. On the previous occasion, Egypt was the target in Algeria (Annaba) in 2001 and would have qualified for the world cup in 2002 had these events not happened. Egypt were leading and on their way to win the match and qualify for the world cup, when it had to be stopped because of Algerian fans' violence. Amazingly, the match was resumed, and the result changed. After the match, stones were thrown against the Egyptian team and its bus. It's all documented in:
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    The violent events of the World Cup qualifier that Algeria won in Sudan were not reported in the western media, maybe because the correspondents were too busy with Darfur to care about a match. Here is some evidence of Algerian fans with knives and swords in and outside the stadium:
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    and the full story from Al-Jazeera:

  • Comment number 43.

    Can I make a few comments as there are a lot of colourful (for that read bizarre) idioms coming out from people who are clearly neither Egyptian or Algerian and just taking sides as they see fit.

    The rivalry between those two nations is one of the biggest on the African scene. However, but rivalry I mean FOOTBALL-WISE. As nations, the two have stood side by side with the notion of "Arab nationalism" etc, a marked contrast to tensions between England and Argentina for the Falklands say etc (and don't kid yourselves, these things do surface in football matches through chants etc

    Now, what happened in Cairo and all the build-up prior to that is just one example of many clashes over the years when these two nations met. It happened in the 1980s when the Egypt National team managament was attack as mentioned, and it happened prior to the 14th November clash in Cairo, but there were also massive clashes largely instigated by Algerian "ultras" being airlifted for free to Sudan for the play-off decider. This is something the western media has not even cared to mention, which does bemuse me to think that the western media might possibly twist propaganda in Algeria's favour!

    With regards to tomorrow's clash, the Angolan government have been stringent in their security measures for who can attend the match, and crucially, both sets of media (Algeria and Egypt) have moved to finally diffuse all this nonsense and focus on the football and that is refreshing following the "war" which was all started by the media anyway.

    With regards to the game, Egypt have the technique, the experience (of key players and winning it etc) and the spirit, the latter being a key component of Algeria's strength. The Algerians meanwhile have pace and an ability to exploit set pieces. It promises to be an intriguing match (minus all the violence and media tripe), with the match possibly decided by the odd goal.

  • Comment number 44.

    The funny thing is the Egyptian media did have nothing either, they showed footages taken in algeria a year before the game as evidence. You guys just want to believe many of your fabricated stories, its been 3 months and still no convincing evidence.

    Like I said earlier keep your misinformation to yourselves and chew on them until you become mummies. Watch the game today and hope that it will become a game worth remembering because of the right reasons and not because problems off the field.

    I hope the Algerian team will show in its best form and put a good performance to make us proud, i just want to see a game of the same level as Ivorycoast - Algeria. For the rest I hope the Egyptian team gets one of their imaginary food poisinings, which means they will have a bad day at the office, hahahaha.

    Now seriously, lets pray for a good game of football worth remebering and be the last one between these two teams till the next ACN, and if you Egyptians want to do us brotherly favour, dont ever talk about algeria or its people in any context again and we will burn the everything connected with Egyptout out of our brains and let time heal the wounds that were inflicted. "Khalti ou Khaltek ou tfara'ou el khalet"
    lets just part ways indefinitivley, its bes for both of us.

  • Comment number 45.

    If you can not respect eachother its better to forget eachother.

  • Comment number 46.

    While the on-field battle will captivate, so may the battle in the press box. Algerian journalists would make 'those Scottish fans with typewriters' seem almost neutral, shouting at the tops of their voices while flying Algerian flags (Egypt's have also been in media areas).

    Eh? Sorry Piers I thought the discussion was meant to ne about the African Cup of Nations? So where does this sly dig at the Scottisch Media come into it? You remind me of one of those 'little englander' types-ie the ones who make stupid nationalistic comments like that of above them moan about how 'Scots' hate you!!!

    Dont make crass remarks like the one above and the Scots might actually want Engalnd to win the WC. Also I would also like to add to the fans who may read this- I personally dont view all English supporters as tunnel visioned as the author of this article so apologies to you if i seem somewhat annoyed or 'bitter' but when a journalist representing the BBC starts spouting rubbish like that in the aforementioned quote above it does annoy me. It is atogonostic and adds no real value to either the article or more importantly the substance of the article.

  • Comment number 47.

    Quick comments:

    1) if Algerians players were attacked on the bus why would the players sit in the lobby bleeding?? where are their docs...etc to patch the players up and at least stop the bleddin..etc Personally, it's wierd to bleed and instead of gettin cured, u get reports and cameras!!
    2) Algeria won the match in sudan, aint weird for the fans instead of celebrating for qualifying to start attckin egyptian fans/buses??? come on...your team won wht r u doin?? instead of celebrating u r going after the opponents fans this is jst weird!!!

    As 4 today's match, i jst hope things end on the pitch. i.e whn the match ends "the whole hype between the 2 countries stops espcially that its goin beyond football" its really pathetic! I wish Egyptians would play some good football and make football fans all around the world miss "OUR" presence in the WC.

  • Comment number 48.

    lol.... BBC you need to set a age limit for these bloggers ... 18 and over only !!!
    Djidjel your late for school ...

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    What is the use of the Game to Us in Africa?
    I really admire the spirit of Ghana, Egypt and Algeria as they play in Angola. Where does this spirit come from? Is it because these teams have no big names among the highest scorers in Europe in their games? I think that could be the reason. These teams have made me proud of African football. Unlike players from the so-called African giants like Ivory Coast and Cameroun, Ghana has performed beyond my expectation. The boys from Ghana are doing well because there is no Mutari, Essien, Apiah and so forth on the team. the big names in European soccer seem to be a disgrace to African football. their performances have led me to ask the question above. They score great goals, they put the game at their heartbeat in Europe and play to their best. But once they reach Africa that spirit is gone. Why so? Don't we deserve the best out of them? They have made me to question what they have for us in South Africa. I had been a coach or an administrator of an African team no big name from Europe would make my team to South Africa because they would only serve as a bad influence on the performance of other African players in the competition. It is a shame for our so-called African top scorers in Europe. You have nothing to show us for our own game.

  • Comment number 51.

    Just a comment regarding post 3. Egypt actually lost to Algeria 3-1 in Algeria, so they got an away goal, as opposed to the 2-0 Egypt win in Cairo. So in theory Egypt should have qualified. And post 2 is very accurate regarding what happened in Sudan although this was not covered by the international media. I am not saying that throwing stones in Egypt was right, but in comparison to what happened in Sudan and how the Algerians treated the Egyptian fans, the Egyptian fans who threw stones in Cairo can be considered angels.

  • Comment number 52.

    lovin this blog !!!

    Now this is what I call a grudge match !!

    Keep up the insulting comments ! ( As a neutral its good fun ! )

    Cant wait for tonights match..... I hope its good !

  • Comment number 53.

    algerians stop dreaming . when u become a leader like egypt you will know why arabs hate egypt and if egyptian peopole are so bad why all of you watch egyptian movies and tv .stop being jalous.

  • Comment number 54.

    Yes dz-spirit.....I agree that Karim is the only neutral one here and he's probably Egyptian as you claim. You say we are staying true to the stereotype. I find that hilarious since you and the rest have been taking "digs" at Egyptians in this whole post and rarely do you accept any blame. And not only that but if you notice, most Egyptians' comments here were defensive.

    Like I said before, the whole world knows Algerians are saints .....

    Also good for you that the only thing going well for your nation is the intermarriage between the French soccer players and Algerians. That is by far the most useless piece of news ever. And to compound things your actually mocking the Pharaohs. Buddy the Pharaohs of Egypt have contributed more to Science,medicine and architecture than the Algerians in their entire history. And thats only one small part of the rich history of Egypt...

    Im personally tired of defending my country to a group who are increasingly narrow minded, violent(yet more goons airlifted from Algeria to Angola) and ignorant. May the game pass in peace, Egypt wins, and we never hear of any cooperation, soccer matches or anything that groups the 2 "brotherly" countries together

  • Comment number 55.

    @ its not weird.... its something we are increasingly seeing the more times we play Algeria....they love acting and creating bigger drama's than need be.

    One thing to expect of todays match is a whole lot of feigning led by the great Academy Award Nominee for Best Breakthrough Actor Goalkeeper Fouzi

  • Comment number 56.

    almost all the comments here seem unbelievable- literally speaking. the emotion-laden of the comments are fever-high.

    i am nigerian - which makes me neither algerian nor egyptian - and perhaps, i will be unbiased in this matter.

    to me, both teams have always been great. i hope the players on both sides will not betray the kind of fearful sentiments exhibited here. i'll love to see both teams play with their hearts and heads.

    admittedly, football isn't completely free of politics -especially in this part of the world [africa], where most aspects of life has become politicised.

    so which team am i supporting? i want algeria to win to show other teams participating in the world cup 2010 that they're a force to reckon with; and for them to gain self-belief in a superioty ability.

    i also want egypt to win that may have created an enviable record - not only in africa but world over- of winning a competitive championship like the africa cup of nations.

    for me, these two teams are wonderful. i hope they act beautifully tonight.

  • Comment number 57.

    An interesting blog, Piers. It sounds like FIFA is still living up to its reputation.

    But "Scottish fans with typewiters" ??
    What are they doing at an Algeria-Egypt showdown? Throwing them at the coaches?

    I guess I must have been the only part of "the planet" which didn't "sit up and take notice". (Assuming that I'm on the same planet.)

  • Comment number 58.

    Congratulations to all egyptians................Congratulation.......................... Congratulation......

  • Comment number 59.

    Revenge is sweet! Egypt totally deserved victory and the team restored confidence and pride. Come on Egypt!!

  • Comment number 60.

    Are you going to answer my question Piers in relation to your blatant dig at the Scottish Media? Or are you like many of your colleagues brave at writing a post but afraid to respond when someone has a go when you make such ridiculous comments?

  • Comment number 61.

    What's wrong with 'Scottish fans with typewriters'?
    Good on them not pretending they are neutral, like the English journos.

    And who knows, given enough time hammering away, they might produce a masterpiece.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    Speedygun, just a quick note. I was offered a free trip to Sudan to watch the play-off and refused to go for fear of my life. My brother went to Cairo airport with friends but decided against travelling. Those of our friends who did go, along with everyone else who went, WERE attacked and there were video recordings to prove it. What you choose to believe and what you choose to ignore is your choice. And, at the end of the day, whoever saw the 2010 CAF semi-final between Egypt and Algeria will have seen who the better side is, and who plays fair. I mean come on, 3 red cards!!

  • Comment number 64.

    Good game djidjel

  • Comment number 65.

    Congratulations to Algeria. They performed well, will play for 3rd place I believe (??) and then to other plans. Though you'd think they should have been able to have an easy time with Malawi, check your records, Malawi defeated Egypt in 2008 and that is probably the qualifying loss that in the big picture, greatly hindered Egypt. Algeria bounced back and spoke well for themselves all the same.

  • Comment number 66.

    an unseeming way for algeria to lose. a thrilling win for egypt. for algeria, though there's still a future: south africa 2010...and they can surely up their game.

    all the best algeria: the red cards didn't speak well of you guys but, hey! you can still keep your heads up to give your best come south africa 2010.

    who wins the cup: egypt or ghana?

    egypt seems easy to pick...but this uninteresting ghana team sure can give it all to have it all.

  • Comment number 67.

    I know people had been saying Algeria were aggressive but last night's game was absolutely maniac!!!
    Algeria completely lost their discipline . Belhadj's tackle on Muhammady was horrific . Cant say thier GK's play was any more civilized ..

    Algeria need to pick themselves up to represent Africa in 6 months time or else they will make us in Africa look like thugs

    Congrats to Egypt. Well deserved

  • Comment number 68.

    It was a good game. It would have been better if Algeria kept its cool. I really feel sorry for Halliche. The first yellow was totally undeserved!! But his tackle from behind warranted a straight red but the ref was counting on his earlier yellow. Chouchi as usual never fails to dissapoint me, his headbutt on the ref should have been a straight red. Also his foul against GEDOOOOO (my good hometown buddy who is putting Hosh Eissa on the map!!) was despicable and its pretty much clear that he wont be welcome there

    All in all good game....4-0 was a pretty heavy defeat which didnt need to happen as good teams know how to win with 10 men. Want a recent matchup as proof...look no further than the Inter-AC Milan game 2 weeks ago. Inter won 2-0 with 9 men! It is possible if you keep your cool. Algerians chin up, you will win 3rd place and it would be good practice for the world cup .

    P.S All-Muhammadi was just brilliant yesterday eh?

  • Comment number 69.

    There is little to gather from results but I still find this interesting.

    When Egypt went to the 1990 World Cup, these were there results in the 1990 African Cup of Nations in the prior March played in Algeria (data at the elo ratings site)
    Egypt 1 Ivory Coast 3
    Egypt 0 Nigeria 1
    Algeria 2 Egypt 0
    African Cup of Nations won by Algeria.
    When Algeria went to the 1986 World Cup, these were their results in the 1986 African Cup of Nations in the prior March played in Egypt.
    Algeria 0 Morocco 0
    Algeria 0 Zambia 0
    Cameroon 3 Algeria 0
    African Cup of Nations won by Egypt in a penalty shoot out vs. Cameroon.

  • Comment number 70.

    Canadian Sunset, 1990 Egypt went with a second team to the Cup, El-Gohary even suspended the league to prepare for the world cup.

    1986 I can't recall well, as I was just 7, but if I remember correctly Cameroon had the best team in Africa and a great goal keeper (Antoine Bell). Egypt were very very lucky to win that championship, especially after loosing the first game and barely making it to the semi-finals. Back then it were only 8 teams who qualified, so those were the best 8 teams in Africa, and the group stage was much harder than now.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    Egyptians deserved the win against Algeria. The world have seen the real side of ALgerian offense stategies . Very hard luck ALgeria and dont make the same mistakes against England in the World Cup. 4-0 for Egypt is the least lesson for ALgeria to learn the art of football and fair play.

  • Comment number 74.

    I wonder where is djidjel now? I guess you can't say anything after 4-0!

    @Canadian Sunset: Confirming what zizo79 said, Egypt took a second string team to Algeria in 1990. And why are going back 20 years in history, what are you trying to prove!

    More recently all African WC qualifiers have put in strong performances at the CAN:
    - South Africa in 1998 made it to the World Cup in France and reached the final of CAN but lost to Egypt.
    - Cameroon won it in 2002, a year in which they played also at the WC in South Korea and Japan.
    - Ivory Coast in 2006 made it to the final and were beaten by who else other than Egypt!
    - This year 3 WC finalists made it to the Semi Final and once again, one by one they fall against mighty Egypt (hopefully Ghana would be next).

    Anyway, back to the topic of the blog, revenge sure is sweet, the whole world has seen under normal circumstances who is the better team.

    Having seen the "quality" of Algerian tackling, I fear for Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Altidore and Donovan at the World Cup!


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