Tensions between football fans in Egypt and Algeria are at a fever pitch as the countries’ teams gear up for a crucial match that will decide who gets the chance to compete in next year’s World Cup tournament.
Football’s world governing body, Fifa, is watching Saturday’s game closely after members of the Algerian team were injured when rocks were thrown at their bus as they arrived in Cairo.
The incident has sparked fears of a repeat of a similar confrontation that erupted ahead of the 1990 World Cup.
Al Jazeera’s Amr el-Khaky, reporting from the Egyptian capital, Cairo, said the atmosphere in Egypt was euphoric a few hours before kickoff on Saturday, despite the tension.
“Cars have been racing through Cairo’s streets, draped in red, white and black since the morning,” he said.
“Queues of fans are … singing, using drums and going through the streets. It’s a spectacular scene.
“At the same time the Algerian fans are isolated from the Egyptians. They have been given the upper stand into Cairo stadium to separate them from the Egyptians for fear of any clashes between the two fans.”