Fifa should have postponed Saturday's tense World Cup qualifier between Egypt and Algeria after the visiting team bus was attacked in Cairo, according to the Algeria midfielder Khaled Lemmouchia. Three players from Algeria's team were slightly hurt on Thursday when youths stoned their bus as they arrived in the Egyptian capital. The incident prompted Fifa to ask Egypt for written guarantees confirming additional security measures to protect the Algerian squad, while the Egyptian FA claimed the incident was staged by the Algerians.
"Allowing this game to go ahead was recklessness," Lemmouchia, one of the players injured, told French sports daily L'Equipe yesterday. Egypt and Algeria will return to the pitch in neutral Sudan tomorrow to settle the last of Africa's qualifying berths for the 2010 World Cup after a dramatic late goal gave the home side a 2-0 win on Saturday. Substitute Emad Moteab's header five minutes into stoppage time gave Egypt the winning margin they needed over Algeria and ensured they finished level at the top of Group C, forcing a sudden-death play-off.
"I can tell you that in our side, some players were pallid, others were like [they were] paralysed before the game," added Lemmouchia. "We are human beings, we have families, fears and joys, just like everybody and Fifa let us play in that context. If they prefer to see Egypt than us at the World Cup, they'd better say it clearly. "We did play that game with players injured. I had three stitches on my scalp and nobody asked me if it was of any discomfort. What do you think would have happened if Egyptians had been attacked like that in Algiers? They would have turned back and asked for a walkover and they would have got it."
* With agencies Read James Montague's preview of the play-off between Algeria and Egypt in tomorrow's edition