20 years ago, on November 17th 1989, in a year that saw the fall of the Berlin wall and the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union, Egypt and Algeria battled on the grounds of Cairo's stadium for a spot in the 1990 World Cup Soccer tournament in Italy. History is about to repeat itself.
Next Saturday, November 14th, 2009, the two teams will play again on the same battle field for a similar goal; a spot in the 2010 world cup soccer tournament in South Africa. Although 20 years has passed, the tension that was created at the end of the match 20 years ago still remains.
At a time when only two countries from the entire continent could qualify, it was not until the end whistle of that game would it be known who would qualify. Egypt managed to beat Algeria with a clean 1-0 score, and that was all they needed for the spot. Egypt had been absent from the World Cup scene since 1934, while Algeria was present in the two previous tournaments held in 1982 and 1986. It was hard at that time for the Algerian team to take the loss, and realize that they couldn't make it for a third consecutive time. This realization coupled with a super excited crowd estimated at 100 thousand Egyptians led to an unprofessional emotional outburst of the Algerian team, that ended in the injury of Egypt's team doctor.
For next Saturday's game the stakes and the tension couldn't be higher. Egypt needs a 3 goal net win over Algeria to make it to the FIFA World Cup tournament after a 20 years absence. Algeria needs to stay put, or at most loose by 1 goal to join the tournament after their 24 year absence. A 2-0 win for Egypt means that the two north African giants will be inseparable at the summit - a play-off at a neutral venue will have to be played. The odds are definitely in favor of the the Algerian squad, which means a great disappointment to the millions of Egyptians hoping for a miracle. Yet, miracles do and can happen. Egypt is throwing in this game all the talent it can. They have recently recalled Zidan to the team to support the rest of Egypt's heavy weights Mohamed Aboutrika, and Amr Zaki.