It’s a great time to be in Cairo. During my five days here the city has constantly been alive with energy at all hours. On Saturday night Egypt’s Pharaohs won a crucial victory over its bitter rival Algeria. However the winning margin (2-0) was not enough to qualify outright for the World Cup, so the two must face off again in Sudan on Wednesday. Tensions between the two teams are so intense that four members of the Algerian team were injured when their bus was stoned upon entering Cairo on Friday.
Most of Cairo’s 20 million residents were huddled around TV screens set up on the city’s sidewalks on Saturday night. Some clamored on car tops or telephone polls to catch a view of the match, returning down to the street to revel during commercial breaks.
Once the win was secure the droves crawled from the sidewalks to the city squares, ultimately converging into one major shebang in the Midan Tahrir, Cairo’s central plaza. The hoopla lasted well into the morning hours. Unlike the welcome given to the Algerian team, most of the celebration was peaceful and fairly non-destructive, except for an unfortunate mannequin I saw ripped from a shop window and torn into pieces. However, we’ll see what happens on Wednesday after the final match. If Egypt looses, I’m not sure I want to be around for the aftermath.