Bitter rivals Egypt and Algeria to slug it out
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