Sunday, January 29, 2006

Misr! – Boom.Boom.Boom – Misr!

Only the most absent minded would notice that Cairo has become a bit football loopy over the last couple of weeks as it hosts the Africa Cup of Nations. Kids are playing on the streets, the standard fizzy drinks are being endorsed by African football stars and there’s even an African Cup song. So we decided to go along to a game as it would be rude not to imbibe some of the culture of your host city for the next few weeks!

Egypt 3 – Ivory Coast 1. That’s how the match ended. As a qualifying game, it was largely inconsequential – Coite d’Ivoire were assured of their place in the knock out stages and the host nation just had to avoid losing to make sure their destiny was in their own hands and not rely on the results of Libya v Morocco. The Ivory Coast team were bigger and physically stronger than the Egyptians, but the home team showed more heart, enthusiasm and courage in front of their inspiring fans.

The crowd atmosphere was something quite different than any sporting event I’ve been to in the UK. The absence of alcohol meant that the raucous enthusiasm never verged on the menacing and frankly it felt relatively safe and good natured. Of course you did have to go through about ten lines of security in this most security-obsessed country. We turned up with about 45 mins to go before kick off and were lucky to find 9 seats altogether near the edge of the pitch. I realised later that at that angle, about 10% of the pitch couldn’t be seen because of the advertising hoardings on our side! This was frustrating as Mido, Egypt’s best player, was dribbling down our flank for the first half-hour before he was substituted due to injury.

I was worried that I would have to explain the offside rule in Arabic to the bunch of football novices that came along, but it didn’t get much worse than; ‘Isn’t it mean that they boo the opposition team? And how do they know in which direction to head the ball’ before the yummy home made chocolate cake was passed around (Mrs C is a fantastic cake baker). The football chanting was no more imaginative than Misr! Boom-Boom-Boom- Misr! A crowd fluffer bizarrely managed to get a whole section of the second-class stadium to shout Oooooo! Aaaaaaaaa! And then what was suspiciously like the Old Macdonald Tune – E-I-E-I-O - in chorus. I was so enraptured with all this that I admit missing Ivory Coast’s goal towards the end of the first half but the crowd itself was something of a spectacle with red, white and black cladding nearly every single one of the 70,000 capacity stadium. They kept up the noise and encouragement for nearly all the game.

After a quiet start to the second half, Ivory Coast’s goalkeeper was substituted and Egypt went on to score a second and third, just in time to warm us all up by cheering along. We had agreed to leave a little early before the end of the match so that we could get a cab home, but mutiny in the ranks put pay to that and we got home really late. As expected the streets were jammed with fans celebrating with flags, horns, whistles and drums. Anyway with no cabs, we were forced to walk for ages and then got into a minibus whose driver insisted in blasting his horn all the way (inducing a headache, homework aversion and class cancellation the next morning). If you didn’t know there was a football match on you might think Egypt had just won a war against Israel! You can imagine the scenes if they do win this competition - the whole nation will go mental. For one short night, we were all Egyptians and the final word should be MISR!

PS Thanks should go to Ustadh Muhammad without whom things would have been a little more difficult.

PPS For a real match report click here.

9 Comments:

Blogger fudgebumpkin said...

Ustadh Muhammad??

Not THE ustadh Muhammad, right?

4:38 pm  
Anonymous Mrs C said...

oh no of course not! There are like five Ustadh Muhammads at Diwan (or more correctly, Asateedh Muhammads)..this one is Muhammad al-Khudary, who very kindly obtained our tickets, accompanied us to the match (protection for everyone, including Mr C) and made everything go smoothly

5:34 pm  
Blogger mad as a cambridge bicycle said...

If you ever come to Egypt, you will very soon realise that Everybody is called Muhammad. On the odd chance that someone is Not called Muhammad, he will almost certainly be called Ahmad.

In the snorkelling place in Dahab, every single guy at the admin-y place on the beach were called Muhammad. All 7 of them. That's not including our driver, Muhammad...

Wassalam

9:46 pm  
Anonymous MusD said...

Are you studying in Markaz Dewan? Send my salams to Ustaz Fajrudin. I'm not sure if Ustaz Mahmoud, Sabri, Ahmed are still there. Tell them I still keep in touch with Ustaz Omar Etri in Abu Dhabi and Ustaz Emad (now in USA). Tell us how you got on with Daud Sheikh from Juz ul Qamar, the dhikr and the ziyarahs... Salams Mus

1:28 am  
Anonymous MusD said...

ps. Glad to hear that you're doing 25 words a day... keep it up... (you might catch up with Mrs C!)

1:28 am  
Anonymous Little Miss C said...

I'm so jealous!

2:14 pm  
Anonymous Little Miss C said...

I think it's time for an update...

3:24 pm  
Anonymous Mr. T said...

Mr C - I was hoping you might get along to one of these matches. I watched some of the final in the Wellington (opposite Waterloo) with an old mate - who struck a remarkable resemblance to Hossan Hassan, the veteran Egypt striker).
If they issued you or your gang such a thing as a match ticket it would be an excellent addition to my collection...

Sat here with a Letter of Intent all ready to go to GOL, but one or two contractuals to iron out first...So whats new!!!!

Big news here - NR invoices turned up!! And Lara hobbled back in today only to be signed off for another two weeks. Another bonkers day in the office, but at least London is not quite so cold today.

4:37 pm  
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