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Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Egypt boosted by 40,000 supporters in crucial match with Nigeria

Despite the current crowd ban in Egypt, the Pharaohs will be boosted by the presence of 40,000 supporters when they host Nigeria at Borg El-Arab Stadium in Alexandria

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Sunday 27 Mar 2016
Egypt fans
Egyptian hardcore football supporters (File photo: Reuters)

Egypt's Interior ministry said it would allow 40,000 supporters to attend Tuesday's anticipated match between the national team and Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations qulifiers, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) announced on Sunday.

Security officials initially approved the attendance of 10,000 fans before adding another 5,000 and finally settling on 40,000. 

Fans have lined up in queues in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria to buy tickets since they were put up for sale a couple of days ago, prompting the EFA to ask security officials for an increase in the number of supporters allowed to attend the match.

On Friday, seven-time African champions Egypt secured a precious 1-1 draw away to Nigeria that kept them at the top of their group in the qualifiers.

The valuable draw put Egypt in a comfortable position before they host the Super Eagles in the second of a double-header at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium on Tuesday.

Egypt, who have not qualified for the Nations Cup since winning the last of their record seven trophies in 2010, have four points from two games following the sudden withdrawal of Chad on Sunday, two ahead of Nigeria and three clear of third-placed Tanzania. 

The winners will automatically reach next year's Nations Cup finals in Gabon.

Story of fans' absence

Football fans have been mainly banned in Egypt since February 2012 when 72 Ahly fans died in the Port Said Stadium disaster. The national team and Cairo duo Ahly and Zamalek were occasionally allowed  to play before fans in international and continental games though.

In February last year, the ban was partially lifted but immediately re-imposed after 20 Zamalek fans died in a stampede at Cairo's Air Defence Stadium.

Cairo giants Zamalek, the league and cup champions, and archrivals Ahly have repeatedly asked Egyptian authorities in recent months to allow fans to return. Their requests have been rejected amid fears of fresh fatal incidents.

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