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Egypt Celebrates

Since none of us could make it to Ghana for the Africa Cup of Nations final, I offer you this exclusive dispatch from jubilant Cairo by Insider loyalist Jon Jensen, an independent producer.

I watched the game at the Al-Ohmda restaurant in Mohandessin, a residential neighborhood on the west bank of the Nile River just within eyeshot of the Great Pyramid at Giza. The atmosphere in the open-air cafe was electric, even hours before kickoff. Hundreds of men, women and children from all walks of life gathered in the small outdoor seating area to watch the game on large-screen TVs. They donned oversized wigs, wrapped themselves in flags and painted their faces in the national colors of red, white and black.
There's never a quiet moment in this bustling capital of some 20 million people, and tonight was no exception. Car horns, whistles, noisemakers and the loud cracks of makeshift fireworks flooded the air of Africa's largest city. Fans sang, shouted and screamed while hopping in their chairs. Throughout the game, a flutist and drummer danced around the restaurant, playing traditional Egyptian songs. And somewhere in the distance, a heart-pounding bass drum was hit to no particular rhythm.
As the teams battled back and forth on the pitch, Egypt supporters never lost faith. "Insha'Allah the goals will come soon!" fans screamed, literally meaning if it is the will of God. An old man with a distorted megaphone paced up and down the cafe's cramped aisles, blaring out the words "Allahu-ahkbar!" -- God is great -- after just about every one of Egypt's many attempts on Cameroon's goal.
The Indomitable Lions seemed poised to take the lead on several tries, but it was Egypt's unflinching midfield and strong team unity that proved too much for Cameroon in the end. It seemed fitting that Mohamed Aboutrika, the poster-boy of Egyptian football, scored the winner. After his goal, the crowd erupted with cheers, applause and chants of "Abou-Trika!"
"I am so happy. Tonight, Egyptians are all one," screamed Ahmed Afifi, in between drags of an apple-flavored hookah pipe.

continued.....

Outside the restaurant, thousands of Egyptians poured into Cairo's already packed streets. All at once, hordes of men and women alike were everywhere -- running, dancing, and above all, screaming. Young boys held lighters to aerosol spray cans, shooting bright orange flames into the air. Men beat spoons on metal trays, adding to the clamor. Traffic -- already a major problem in Cairo -- came to a standstill throughout the city, as fans climbed buses and trucks to wave their flags. Even a donkey-cart hauling garbage was halted by the throng of supporters.
I've been to soccer games on several continents, but nothing can ever beat the African game. Rivalry between nations, the quality of play, and the sheer passion of their fans makes it the best soccer in the world. To witness the enthusiasm and pride of Egyptians as they celebrated in their streets tonight is what makes soccer "the beautiful game."
And for Egypt, the party is only getting started. Car horns will likely trumpet to the wee hours. In the city where people already have trouble sleeping, it's likely most Egyptians won't find much reason to turn in early tonight.


By Steve Goff  |  February 10, 2008; 8:13 PM ET
Categories:  World  
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Next: Morning Kickaround

Comments

wonderful. thats the the beautiful game

Posted by: shah | February 10, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations Egypt for job well done! For my money you truelly deserved the title the you played when it really mattered. I can only wish I was there to witness the beautiful game but I am glad there were so many who enjoyed it.

Posted by: td | February 10, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

37 days to the first home match!
Posted by: Curious | February 10, 2008 08:33 PM
---------
Thanks Curious for keeping us on tracked. It sure is getting closer but still seems like next year.

Posted by: td | February 10, 2008 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Bravo Zulu Masr! Mabruuk!!

Posted by: Juan-John | February 10, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Watching the DVD of the 1997 MLS Cup right now, after a day of watching English, Spanish and Argentine games. Count me in with those who can't wait for the Harbour View game to get here.

Posted by: Juan-John | February 10, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

td -

If 37 days seem like a year -- try it this way:

31 days to the first meaningful match!

That's ONE month.

BTW, any news on Vanney? Is he retiring?

Posted by: Curious | February 10, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to Egypt on a tremendous achievement. Winning it at home is great. But going out on the road and succesfully defending the title is even greater.

I watched a lot of these games (including today's final) and found all them pretty entertaining. Even today's final, which was more tactical and had only 1 goal, featured lots of attacking. Kameni made several great saves to keep Cameroon in the game. Egypt was the better team but Cameroon had enough chances to remain dangerous.

Too bad for Rigobert Song's turnover that led to Egypt's winner. But Mohammed Zidan deserves all the credit for the high pressure he applied and allowed him to dish it off to Abou Trika.

Posted by: garbaggio | February 10, 2008 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Alf mabrouk li kul al masriyeen.

I was pulling for Cameroon, truth be told. A year and change of dealing with Egyptians sadly tends to do that to you. Can't the Jordanians win anything meaningful one of these days?

Posted by: Max J. | February 10, 2008 10:35 PM | Report abuse

where are DCU playing Harbor View? Anyone else out there ever live in Seattle and spend anytime @ Harbour View? It's Just up the hill from Qwest field. but what isn't just up the hill in ol' Seatown?
But for real though, I keep hitting a wall, but is the HV game at RFK?
Thanks

Posted by: dadryan | February 10, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

A note about Insha'allah.

The above translation makes it sound more formal and deliberate than it actually is. In reality, it's often something people say more offhandedly.

In the US, it wasn't all that long ago that people just said "Lord willing" or "good Lord willing" in a similar sense.

Posted by: S | February 10, 2008 11:40 PM | Report abuse

A quality account from Jensen.

Harbor View at RFK March 18th.

Posted by: BH | February 10, 2008 11:42 PM | Report abuse

dadryan:

I don't know exactly where the away game on 3/12 will be held -- presumably in Jamaica. The CONCACAF web site lists RFK as the location for the return leg on 3/18 but it wouldn't surprise me if it were held at the Maryland Soccerplex. Probably depends on how big a draw United expects.

Posted by: Curious | February 10, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Both keepers were amazing - each was MVP for their team in my opinion.

Posted by: FC | February 11, 2008 12:27 AM | Report abuse

wow.

Posted by: ML | February 11, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

"Too bad for Rigobert Song's turnover that led to Egypt's winner. But Mohammed Zidan deserves all the credit for the high pressure he applied and allowed him to dish it off to Abou Trika."
Posted by: garbaggio | February 10, 2008 10:32 PM

Zidan is pure magic, I watched him over here in Germany at my local team (1.FSV Mainz 05) for two half seasons. He rivals Thierry Henry (at his prime) for the most exciting, edge of your seat, attacker that I've ever seen at a live match. He almost single handedly kept us up last year (we were relegated on goal difference).

He can maybe thank the Mainzer 'Spassfussball' system which features high pressure and constant pressing all over the field with maybe helping him develop the skill that helped him on the winning assist! ;)

Posted by: Todd11 | February 11, 2008 7:44 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the writer that African football is on a different level. It's not that it's the best skill or strategy but it just has that extra excitement, speed and passion that seems to be missing in much of the rest of the world.

I'm a huge Ghana fan and after a few years living in Accra I have no problem relating to Jensen's accounts of the game. Imagine if DC, NY and LA came to a standstill every time the US won CONCACAF!

Posted by: Southeasterner | February 11, 2008 8:13 AM | Report abuse

As a soccer fan, it's sad to think that the United States will never be able to feel and share the passion of winning a major tournament like Egypt has just gone through. Even when the day comes that the United States wins a World Cup, the majority of its population will fail to appreciate its significance.

Posted by: TCompton | February 11, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

As a soccer fan, it's sad to think that the United States will never be able to feel and share the passion of winning a major tournament like Egypt has just gone through. Even when the day comes that the United States wins a World Cup, the majority of its population will fail to appreciate its significance.

Posted by: TCompton

What is the significance of a winning a sporting event? Rejoice as you wish if the US wins the World Cup, but try to put it in some context.

The reality is Egypt and much of Africa woke up today to the realities of much sorrow and hardship.

Posted by: CD | February 11, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

What is the significance of a winning a sporting event? Rejoice as you wish if the US wins the World Cup, but try to put it in some context.

The reality is Egypt and much of Africa woke up today to the realities of much sorrow and hardship.

Posted by: CD | February 11, 2008 09:07 AM

And the significance is that "sporting event" is the only thing that can relieve such sorrow and hardship, if only for a moment. Sport is the world's longest-running tradition, dating back as far as history has been recorded. It affects people on a global scale, at times being so powerful as to halt wars. Nothing brings people together like sport, and its importance should never be diminished.

Posted by: el diablo | February 11, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I am thinking ending the perpetual state of emergency in Egypt and granting some civil rights to its citizens.

Sport has its place but it is not the most powerful thing in the world.

I will not play at tug o' war
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs....
~Shel Silverstein

Posted by: CD | February 11, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

36 days to the first home match!

Posted by: Curious | February 11, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I have finished crying now (I still love Drogba and Kalou), and would like to say good show to all the teams. This was a wonderful tournament and the Pharoahs apparently continue to rule in that part of the world.
I see the future... it's 2010, another ACN I fully expect Les Elephants de Cote d'Ivoire to reign supreme and stomp the life out of ALL competition....I hope, I hope, I hope....(fingers crossed, rabbits foot etc. etc.)

P.S. I am a born and bred American and I hope people will wake up and recognize the beauty of the game, and the beauty of the African continent(don't believe all you see on the telly.) I hope the negative vibes don't follow us to the upcoming World Cup.

Posted by: Drogba's Heartbreak | February 11, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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