"Apart from the violence, terror and mass protests on the streets, and the death, violence and destruction in the stadiums Mrs. Bradley, are you enjoying life in Cairo?"
Former USA national coach Bob Bradley, age 53 arrived in late September 2011 with his wife Lindsay to take the reins of the Egyptian national football team, but the camel, and the job itself, has many humps.
A couple of nights ago the American was watching the first half of the Al-Masry v Al-Ahly league match in Port Said on TV, and then drove to Cairo's International Stadium to watch the second half in the VIP lounge, and then was due to watch Zamalek v Ismaily live. AS WE ALL NOW KNOW, A LOT OF STUFF HAPPENED !!!
He saw many of his national team squad bloodied and battered on TV, with their changing room being used to treat the injured and dying. By midnight the Egyptian FA board, who had employed him, were fired by the government, and many of his top players said that they would never play football again!!! CRISIS ? WHAT CRISIS???
Egypt had won the African Cup of Nations seven times, including the last three, the latest being last time out in 2010 in Angola. They had failed to qualify for the current one in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, and if they had done so, then there would not have been any league matches in Egypt right now.
At the FIFA World Cup they have not fared very well, and have never won a match in the two final stages that they qualified for, in Italy in 1934 and in Italy again in 1990. They lost their only match in 1934 to Hungary 4-2 in Naples. In 1990 they tied both Netherlands 1-1 and Ireland 0-0 in Palermo, and lost 1-0 to England in Cagliari, and finished bottom of the group. So, thats were Bob came in! He is due to open the national team training camp in less than two weeks, on February 15th. Two weeks later their first African Nations 2013 qualifying match is in Central African Republic. On June 1st is their opening match in Cairo against Mozambique on the road to Brazil 2014. WELL, MAYBE ?
Today on CNN, a reporter walked around the Port Said stadium showing bloody seats, discarded shoes, and the gates where many fleeing fans were crushed to death as they were still locked at the end of the match. Witnesses said that a large group of 'fans' wearing the green and white colours of the home team, were let in shortly before kick-off time without being searched.
I have been to matches with as little as 1,000 fans at a South African Premier League match in Stellenbosch, Western Cape where Cape Town Spurs were playing, where every fan was searched. The same at Moroccan League matches in Fez, Tangiers, Kenitra and Marrakesh, and when I was at The Cairo International Stadium there were FOUR check points.
For further insight into football in Africa I can recommend FEET OF THE CHAMELEON, by Ian Hawkey: Portico Press. Winner of the Best Football Book and Best British Sports Book Awards 2010.