Bit­ter ri­vals Egypt and Al­ge­ria to slug it out

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPASTIMES -

BERNE: FIERCE ri­vals Egypt and Al­ge­ria will meet in a play­off in Su­dan if they fin­ish level at the top of their World Cup qual­i­fy­ing group, Fifa said this week.

The venue, which was favoured by the Egyp­tians, was cho­sen at a draw at Fifa head­quar­ters. Al­ge­ria had asked to play in Tu­nisia.

Al­ge­ria, who last qual­i­fied for the World Cup in 1986, lead African Group C with 13 points, three ahead of African cham­pi­ons Egypt, who de­spite be­ing a dom­i­nant force on the con­ti­nent, have not qual­i­fied since 1990.

The two meet in their fi­nal group game in Cairo to­day, where a two-goal win for Egypt would leave the sides level on points, goal dif­fer­ence, goals scored and head-to-head record.

With just such a pos­si­bil­ity in mind, and in the in­ter­ests of fair play, Fifa held a draw at its Zurich head­quar­ters to de­cide the venue of the hy­po­thet­i­cal de­cider.

Only the win­ners of the group will qual­ify for the World Cup fi­nals in South Africa next year.

Bad feel­ing be­tween the two sides stretches back to a World Cup qual­i­fier 20 years ago in Cairo, when Egypt won 1-0 to guar­an­tee a place at the Italy fi­nals. Play­ers clashed on the field af­ter the game and the Egyp­tian team doc­tor was par­tially blinded.

Egypt then threat­ened to pull out of the fol­low­ing year’s African Na­tions Cup in Al­ge­ria and even­tu­ally sent a B team which lost all three group games.

Kenya head into a cru­cial qual­i­fier against Nige­ria to­day without Ger­man coach An­toine Hey, who failed to at­tend train­ing this week fol­low­ing a dis­pute with the Kenyan foot­ball au­thor­i­ties.

The Haram­bee Stars need to beat Nige­ria in Nairobi and hope Mozam­bique lose to Tu­nisia in Ma­puto in or­der to book their place for the African Na­tions Cup in An­gola next year. – Sapa-dpa and Reuters

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