Aurevoir Cote d'Ivoire
... or Good luck in Germany but forget it here... these were some of the messages that Egyptian supporters wrote on big signs before getting into the stadium for the final of the Africa Cup. And yes, I was there as well :) Of course we had to buy the tickets on the black market triple price, but it was worth it. The stadium was packed and we had to get there 4 hours before the game started, as the doors were closed early to prevent people from "sneaking in" without ticket (unimaginable for at least northern Europe, but common practice in the land of the pharaos ;-)) The time went by quickly beeing entertained, as usual by drum beats, cheers and interesting cloths and face painting combinations to be observed around us. Then, at 6pm local time, the wistle announced the beginning of the match. After a difficult 90min. for Egypt, where only the goal keeper was exellent, the score between the "pharaos" and the "elephants" was 0:0, another difficult15 min.followed.... and there it was, some confusion and commotion on the field and ....GOAL! the crowed went crazy, 80000 filling the stadium jumping screaming dancing, waving flags, so that it took a while until the news broke through: the referee did not count the goal (later on, video confirmed that he made a mistake)... huge dissapointment, but the game went on, suddently foul from the side of Cote d'Ivoire - the referee gives a severe yellow card AND a penalty, probably to make up for his earlier mistake, especially that not only 80000 Egyptians but also Hosni Mubarak, Egypt himself, is in the stadium watching. ... Bad luck however, the ball hits the goal post, but the whole stadium is screaming "Masr, Masr, Masr" giving the signal to the players that they still believe in them. Despite this amazing support, the score remained 0:0, which ment decision by penalty shootout. Egypt starts and marks a goal, Cote d'Ivoire's ball is kept by the Egyptian goal keeper, Egypt scores a second goal ... the crowed prepares to celebrate... but then Cote d'Ivoire scores as well and, oh tradgedy!, Egypt misses.... yes you counted right, the score is at 2:1 Once again, Cote d'Ivoire's ball is caught by the Egyptian goal keeper, who proves to have nerves of steel, Egypt scores once more ... the tension in the stadium is almost unbarable... will Cote d'Ivoire miss? No! The ball is in! Still the Egyptian crowd is cheering, Masr, Masr, Masr,... and there it is, the 4th Egyptian goal! 4:2 and the supporters go mad, the stadium trembles, red, white and black everywhere, the players on the field jump on each other, start running around, catch some flags, which are thrown on the field by some supporters and join the cheering. The goal keeper klimbs up the goal post and starts a little dance ontop of the goal.... Joy and pride are great, absolutely friendly without any violent excess. Still the streets are crowded, people dance on top of cars, flags everywhere, people stopping their car in the middle of the street in order to hug some strangers and express their happiness over the victory... 2,5 hours after Hosni Mubarak handed out the cup and honored the Egyptian trainer with 2 kisses on the cheek, we finally arrived home (usually this drive takes about 30 min), it was a great event.
Hoppa-e hoppa-a el hamdulillah kesabtna! (hoppa-e hoppa-a, thanks to God we won)