Egypt cleared to play World Cup tie in Cairo
Cairo, September 26, 2013
Egypt are to be allowed to play in Cairo when they host Ghana in their decisive World Cup qualifier on November 19 after the government agreed a concession following restrictions imposed in the wake of last year's Port Said stadium disaster.
The match will be hosted at the Air Defence stadium in Cairo, the Egypt Football Association said on its website.
It said the concession had been granted by Egypt's sports minister Taher Abou Zeid after extensive discussions.
Restrictions on games have been in place since 74 people died in Port Said when spectators were crushed as panicked crowds tried to escape from the stadium after a post-match pitch invasion by supporters of Al Masry.
Others fell or were thrown from terraces, witnesses said. Many of those who died were supporters of opponents Al Ahli.
It led to the cancellation of the rest of the domestic league season and restrictions on crowds watching Egypt's national teams or top clubs in continental competition.
Egypt's league resumed again in February - one year after the Port Said disaster - but was called off for a second successive year following the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi in July.
Since then, the only football has involved the national team and two clubs - Al Ahli and Zamalek - in the group phase of the African Champions League.
But all their home matches have been played in the Red Sea resort of El Gouna, at a tiny stadium, as authorities banned any matches from major centres.
Most games were behind closed doors, including Egypt's last World Cup qualifier against Guinea earlier this month.
Despite all the restrictions, Egypt finished top of their group and have since been drawn against Ghana in the two-legged playoffs to determine places in Brazil next year.
Ghana host the first leg in Kumasi on Oct. 15 followed by the return in Cairo.
Egypt have dominated the African Nations Cup finals with a record seven successes but not qualified for the World Cup since their last appearance in 1990 and made much of an increasingly desperate quest. - Reuters
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