Bitter and literally bloodied rivals Egypt and Algeria meet Wednesday for a one-game playoff in Khartoum to decide which national soccer team will advance to the World Cup finals. The two teams finished level in their qualifying group after Egypt's miracle win on Saturday in Cairo. (Algeria won the first match in Algiers.)
[UPDATE NOV 18: Algeria defeated Egypt 1-0 in the playoff, and will advance to the World Cup for the first time since 1986.]
The love between these two teams? Colder than a camel in the arctic.
Check out this incredible video of the Algerian team's bus being attacked by Egyptian fans as it travels from the airport to the hotel in Cairo last Friday. Algerian players emerge from the bus bloodied by the rocks thrown through the windows.
Then there's this video, of the shocked Algerian players as they're being treated by medics at the hotel:
That was before the game. Rioting continued afterward, as delirious Egyptian fans clashed with distraught Algerian supporters well into the night, and the Little Algeria 'hood of Cairo was laid waste.
And that incident will not go down as the worst between these two teams. As reported in The New York Times Lede blog:
"The last time the national soccer teams of Egypt and Algeria met in Cairo for a game to decide which nation would qualify for the World Cup, in 1989, the conflict on and off the pitch was so violent that it ended with an Egyptian supporter losing an eye and an Interpol arrest warrant being issued for an Algerian player.
"The already tense atmosphere that day got worse when the Algerian team concluded that Egypt’s winning goal was scored by a player in an offside position (although video of the goal available on the Internet today seems to show that it was correctly allowed). After the match, the Algerians surrounded and harassed the referee and then fought with Egyptian supporters — one of whom was blinded by broken glass."
Is another such incident looming for the playoff? Sudan officials did not not confirm that janjaweed militias were being redirected to the capital to provide security.