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Mubarak Joins Football Row

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Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak has stepped into a row with Algeria, vowing he will not tolerate the “humiliation” of Egyptian nationals abroad.

The dispute was triggered by violence following football World Cup qualifying matches between the two north African Arab nations.

Algeria won the crucial play-off, but each side has accused the other’s fans of attacking their supporters.

The governing body of world football, FIFA, is investigating the violence.

The BBC’s Yolande Knell in Cairo says in a country where political demonstrations are usually heavily suppressed this is an unusual sight and a further sign of how strained Egypt’s relationship with Algeria has now become.

In the televised statement to a joint session of parliament, President Mubarak said his country will not be lax in defending the rights and integrity of its citizens.

“Egypt does not tolerate those who hurt the dignity of its sons,” he said.

Although he did not mention Algeria by name, our correspondent says it was clear he was referring to the row that has occurred following violence that spilled over following the matches on 14 and 18 November.

Mr Mubarak said: “We don’t want to be drawn into impulsive reactions. I am agitated too, but I restrain myself.”

Algeria has demanded that Egypt stop what it describes as “a media campaign” against it following the violence.

On Friday, riot police had to quell a violent demonstration near the Algerian embassy in Cairo. Egypt’s interior ministry said 35 people were injured.

A day earlier, around 1,000 Egyptians burned Algerian flags in a street near the Algerian embassy.

Algeria beat Egypt 1-0 in a play-off in Sudan on Wednesday.

Protesters were incensed by reports that Egyptian fans at the match had been attacked as they left the stadium.

Egypt has threatened to quit international football for two years after complaining to FIFA about Algerian fans’ behaviour in Khartoum.

If Egypt does not go through with its threat, there is a chance the teams could meet again in less than three months, in the Cup of African Nations, hosted by Angola.

The two teams were drawn in different groups at Friday’s ceremony but could meet each other in the later stages.

Egypt’s foreign ministry had summoned the Algerian ambassador to hear complaints about reports of attacks on Egyptian fans in Khartoum and on Egyptian businesses in Algeria.

The Egyptian ambassador in Algiers was than recalled “for consultations”.

Sudan has also summoned the Egyptian envoy in Khartoum, angry at Egyptian media coverage of the game’s aftermath.

The Egyptian government alleges 21 of its citizens were attacked after the match, but Sudan says far fewer were injured.

The teams needed the play-off in a neutral country to decide on qualification after the final group match between them on Saturday saw Egypt win 2-0, meaning the two teams finished tied at the top of the group with equal points and identical goal difference.

FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Egypt after the Algerian team bus was pelted with stones before the 14 November match in Cairo.

Three Algerian players were injured by rocks thrown as they arrived.

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European Clubs Distasteful, Disrespectful Over Afcon – Ikeme

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Former Nigeria goalkeeper Carl Ikeme has described the reaction of European clubs to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations as distasteful.
Ikeme, who made 10 appearances for the Super Eagles before his early retirement in 2018, weighed in on the issue of releasing players for the tournament during the European season and he described it as disrespectful to African football.
The former Wolverhampton Wanderers star believes the foremost African football competition is just as important as the European Championship and that players derive joy in representing their countries in a major event like Afcon.
“I don’t think it is professional, I think it is distasteful. I don’t think it helps the reputation of African football, I think it is disrespectful,” Ikeme told Tidesports source.
“Whether you are playing for England, Spain, Nigeria or Egypt, there is no difference. These players find pride in wearing their national team jerseys.
“When I was playing, it was the biggest honour I had in my career, playing for my national team and nothing can be compared to it.
“To think any player who is looking at Afcon as a burden is wrong because they love representing their countries, as you can see when Iheanacho scored Nigeria’s goal against Egypt, how Nigerians in Cameroon celebrated.

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AFCON 2021: ‘Good Times Are Back For Nigeria’

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Good times are back for the Super Eagles declared Nigerian legend Jay Jay Okocha after the team wrapped-up their Group D campaign with a perfect record on Wednesday.
Nigeria made it three-out-of-three following a 2-0 win over Guinea Bissau on Wednesday to see the two-time AFCON champions march on to the last 16 with a 100 percent record after topping Group D on 9 points, scoring 6 goals and conceding just one in the process.
Okocha said it was even more gratifying to see Nigeria coach Augustine Eguavoen make a massive eight changes in Wednesday’s game.
The highlight saw striker Sadqi Umar score in his first AFCON start when he netted the opening goal in the 56th minute before Nigeria captain William Ekong wrapped-up the match in the 79th minute.
“He has got a great team of not just eleven good players but also twenty-something good players that he can rely on,” Okocha stated.
“There is nothing better for the coach than giving a player a chance and him paying you back by restoring his confidence in you.
“I think it is good to see that we are flying high but the game today is gone, the most important one is the next one and we can only justify our performances so far if we go on and win the next one.”
Nigeria returns to action this Sunday and await the best third place finisher from yesterday’s night’s tight Group E and F encounter’s.
“So every next game is the toughest one for you and the one you have to win,” Okocha said.
“I hope we will carry on the good job that we are doing so far.”

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Nigeria, Egypt Tipped For AFCON 2021 Title

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Sudan coach Burhan Tia has tipped Nigeria for a long run at the Africa Cup of Nations following the Super Eagles’ strong group-stage campaign.
The Falcons of Jediane were defeated by both the West African giants and Egypt’s Pharaohs during their brief stint in the competition, and has seen enough from both sides to expect great things from them in the fixtures to come.
“Could Egypt or Nigeria be champions?” Tia asked rhetorically. “Both teams are very good and both played good football in the group.
“They are two teams who could go very far in the competition.”
The Super Eagles faced off with Sudan in their second group match, having dispatched Egypt 1-0 in their opener.
The result was a 3-1 triumph for Augustine Eguavoen’s men, with Samuel Chukwueze, Taiwo Awoniyi and Moses Simon netting the goals to confirm Nigeria’s passage to the Last 16.
The West African giants subsequently downed Guinea-Bissau 2-0 in their final group game on Wednesday to ensure they reach the knockout stages as the only team in the tournament with a 100-percent record.
It’s the first time since 2006 that Nigeria has navigated a Nations Cup group stage with maximum points, fuelling expectation that the West African giants can go the distance in the tournament for the first time since 2013.
Sudan’s campaign ended with a narrow 1-0 defeat by an unconvincing Egypt side in Yaounde on Wednesday, although coach Tia was downhearted with his side’s performance.
“We were concentrated on our game and we did as much as possible to see to it that we could put up a good fight,” he continued. “It wasn’t perfect but we tried our best.”
Ex-Al-Merreikh boss Tia was not happy with the mistakes his team made as they tried to keep their North African rivals at bay in the Nile Derby, but believes his side can hold their head high as they exit the competition.
“We played our game as much as we should have, we played quite well but I think that we had a number of mistakes as far as our players are concerned,” he concluded. “We will get better and we will try as much as possible to try and correct our mistakes.
“It was possible for us not to make them, but it was an important game for us, and we made effort and tried our best.

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