An ill wind blows through Cairo (curtailing sightseeing) this morning. Newspapers are carried into the air and swirl upwards their destination uncertain. You Pkv close your eyes as you walk down the street to avoid the dust. Your own future uncertain as your visibility is reduced and the motorists are lying in wait, but give themselves away at the last second by repeatedly using their horns.


The Egyptians are delighted that their faith has been rewarded by a place in the final of this competition. They see this as just reward for a team led by their star Mido (peace be upon him). Going into this competition I got the feeling that they did not trust the team but that they worshipped Mido. When stopped in the street and asked about the team the Egyptians would always ask for an opinion on Mido. “Mido, the terrible” (the expression used in the newspapers as a compliment) my reply, left them confused as they felt I had not yet started to answer the question.


When pressed further if you did not issue compliments they would stare at you and insist that you explain further whilst they would then insist in proving that this is the best player they have ever seen. This attitude is prevalent in society here and anything that does not meet their way of thinking is seen as wrong and unacceptable, and of course will be dealt with in time by you know who.


The manner in which they reached the final may leave them a little confused as Mido did his best to ruin everything by having a blazing row with coach Shehata, when substituted. This could have undone everything the team had worked so hard for. Mido’s replacement Amr Zaki, showing far more composure, concentrated on matters on the pitch and scored immediately after coming on. At the same time reducing Mido to a mere mortal bystander.


I understand that the Egyptians have already thrown him out of the squad and suspended him for six months. In this competition they have shown that they are not a one man team and that players compliment each other. Whilst there have been strong individual performances from Barakat, Aboutrika, Motaeb and Said it is the teamwork they have shown that has seen them overwhelm opposition and leave them with 4 wins and a draw and a goal tally of 12 for and only 3 against.


The coach Shehata should be congratulated for the achievement and for his brave decision to register his own free speech and show the world that this is the way forward.





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AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS – Health and Safety

AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS – Health and Safety

FIFA have announced that they were concerned that at the recent Egypt v Cote D’Ivoire game there appeared to be people sitting in the aisles, obstructing gangways and making it difficult for people to leave the stadium in the result of an emergency situation. This led to a statement being issued in which they highlighted how they wished to educate the Egyptians, to reduce the possibilities of any accidents.


I can confirm that this has been common place at all stadiums, despite the grounds not always being full. Often parts of the stadium have been off limits, either not opened or occupied by the Guantanamo supporters, thus creating problems in the areas where genuine spectators have been allowed access.


After two weeks now in Egypt I think that this is only a minor concern and that they should be having a look at the bigger picture. You could start with a trip to the stadium where the following hazards may be encountered.


To start with negotiating lifts that have a mind of their own. Where the gap between the floor and the bottom of the lift allows a clear offside decision to be made as often there is a 6 inch gap between the floor and the lift. These same lifts are known to stop in between floors and regularly the lights will go out.


Walking out on the streets you immediately take in the Cairo air, which within minutes leaves you feeling that you need to brush your teeth, or as a smoker put it to me that he had 20 cigarettes for breakfast. Seeing bread transported through the streets, made me realise how they got that Cairo taste into it.


The pavement often has unprotected man holes which collect rubbish. Everyday folk ignore them and manage to negotiate them. Whilst wherever work is taking place on the roads rubble is left at the side of road and construction workers will throw down large objects, from great heights, on to piles of sand. With no protection for pedestrians or even motorists.


I read an article in the paper recently which highlighted further my feelings on the roads, as it finished with the line “death is inevitable” referring to pedestrians risking life and limb to cross the road.


The cars on the road use their horns instead of brakes and headlights are switched on at night only to add more impact to the blaring horn to move the car in front out of the way.


The public transport seems to think that it will be fined for loitering if they actually come to a halt. People are seen regularly running after and jumping on the bus whilst coming of the bus you take your life in your own hands as your momentum sends you running, often into the oncoming traffic. Even on the metro the doors remain open for the briefest of periods and you have to fight to get on or of before the door shuts.


Having negotiated these obstacles the spectators are happy to sit in the aisles as in comparison, as it is no more dangerous that the rest of their day.


If FIFA thinks that there is a problem they should be confirming with the Egyptians the number of tickets sold for each section and making sure that no one enters without a ticket. By doing this then everyone would know where they stood. On the eve of the Egypt v Congo game an e-mail was sent to all ticketholders who had purchased tickets over the internet advising them that the gates of the stadium would once again close at 4p.m. Once again valid ticketholders were denied entry to the stadium.


In Egypt H & S, simply stands for happy and smiling. Despite all the hazards in peoples way they overcome them in everyday life. Right now the people of Egypt are proud of their teams performance. The win over a weakened Ivory Coast side gave them great heart and now as the tournaments top scorers and with home advantage they are looking forward to winning their 5th title this coming Friday. Inshallah.