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Cairo Stadium in Wembley

by Randa El Tahawy

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Watching England play against Egypt in the away section of London’s Wembley stadium felt like being in Cairo stadium in Egypt.

Egyptians chanted and cheered as England and Egypt played a friendly match in preparation for the World Cup this summer in South Africa.

England’s coach Fabio Capello selected Egypt as opponents hoping to make his team play against a North African country like Algeria whom they will face in South Africa.

The away section was red, white and black with Egyptians flags waving in the air.

Egyptians have always been passionate about Football, but in the past months the intensity of that passion has grown especially after the World Cup play-offs.

Egypt failed to qualify for the World Cup this year against Algeria in heated playoffs that led to violent clashes in both countries.

Supporting their country

Many Egyptians who watched the match at Wembley Stadium exuded patriotism as they supported their country in a foreign pitch.

Sarah, Rabab and Linda came all the way from France to watch the game. “ We love our country and we came all the way to support it because we live abroad and miss Egypt,” said Sarah while waving her flag.

Mohamed Elewa who has been living in the UK for 10 years said he came to the football pitch to take pride in his country and feel nostalgic. “I have been away from Egypt for a long time, my identity is Egyptian and today at the stadium I feel like I came back to my country,“ he said.

Proud African champions

Egyptians were all positive about beating the Three Lions because the last time the two teams played was in 1990 with Egypt losing 1-0.

After the first goal by Egyptian striker Mohamed Zidan at the 23rrd minute, the section was vibrating with ecstatic chants. Fans could be heard screaming “Masr, Masr, Masr,” which means Egypt in Arabic.

Despite being disqualified for the World Cup, Egypt has won the African Cup of Nations for the third consecutive time.

The Pharaohs beat Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria and Ghana, which are four of the African teams selected for the World Cup. The Egyptian team has been ranked 10th in the world, one place below England.

“Today’s performance really proves that we deserved to be in the World Cup and this makes me proud of my country,” said Ahmed Ezzat.

Keeping heads up

Egypt eventually lost 3-1 to England with goals from Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Despite losing this symbolic game fans didn’t lose motivation, as they kept cheering until the last minute, screaming the names of the players. “It is too bad we lost but it is only a friendly game. I am happy I came to support Egypt,” said Elewa.

“It is really hard to live away from your homeland, you sometimes forget who you are and need to feel it back again,” he added holding on to his Egyptian flag.

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