Isamailia Stadium

Another ground that saw major changes for the Fifa under-17 World Championship, including the incorporation of an artificial pitch and the introduction of an electronic scoreboard is the 16,500 capacity Estad Ismailia on Reda Street in Ismailia, home to Ismaila.

This city of gardens and flowers, caressing the historic Suez Canal, is located halfway between Port Said and Suez, 120 km from Cairo on the west Bank of Lake Timsah. In the early days, Ismailia was called Timsah Village, but it was subsequently named after Khedive Ismail of Egypt. Little did he know that the Estad Ismailia would make the hearts of ground approachers tick since the ground does not give away itself easily in a sheer myriad of streets. Of course the man at the door objects to have photographs taken. Standard procedure. Always ask the ‘why’ question in Egypt since it evokes a string of telephone calls and a rendez vous with all the local uniformed stars and stripes, all objecting to the idea.

Nobody knows the reason. Egyptians are masters in devoting time to let people wait. Waiting developed into art and daily routine. Without wasting time nobody in Egypt would know how to pass time.

Once inside there’s the rewarding side of a truly magnificent natural pitch, surrounded by eye blinding white stands, sweeping around an athletics track. The ground has a pretty modern feel to it with a catchy main stand that seems to set itself apart from the rest of the stadium.