Egypt crushes Algeria, referee blamed

2010-01-29 10:34

ALGERIANS still honked horns, waved flags and cheered on their

football team after it was crushed 4-0 by Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations

semifinal match yesterday.

Many fans blamed Benin referee Codjia Koffi for hobbling Algeria

and helping Egypt to its first goal. Three Algerian players were also given

their marching orders in the tense match played in the western city of Benguela

in Angola.

“The referee tilted the game and showed favour to the Egyptians,”

said Yacine Hadri, echoing the feelings of many Algerians.

Police presence was discreet in the capital Algiers despite a feud

that spilled into violence earlier in the competition.

All appeared calm late yesterday in Algiers, but several incidents

were reported across the Mediterranean in the French city of Marseille.

In November, Egyptian supporters attacked the Algeria team bus and

three players were injured ahead of a World Cup qualifying match. Algerian

stores of cellphone operator Djezzy, owned by Egypt-based Orascom group, were

looted.

Tension was so high that Egypt’s and Algeria’s foreign ministers

spoke by phone ahead of yesterday’s match. Immediately after the defeat, Sports

Minister Hachemi Djiar went on TV to ask his countrymen to remain “dignified”

despite the loss, and to keep supporting the team.

Hundreds of Algerians converged on the square in front of the

central post office, waving flags, honking horns and shouting “1-2-3 Algeria!”

The TV showed similar reaction in other major cities from Oran in the west to

Constantine in the east.

Algerians cheered their team across the Mediterranean Sea in France

where millions of Algerians live, and where security was tight.

Still, incidents were reported in Marseille after hundreds gathered

in the Old Port neighbourhood, some setting garbage cans afire, lighting smoke

bombs and throwing cans and bottles toward lines of security forces.

Police confirmed that eight people were detained.

In Paris, France capital, the police guarded the chic

Champs-Elysees Avenue where victories are typically celebrated. No incidents

were immediately reported.

Hundreds of Algerians took to the streets in a northern Paris

district that was home to many Algerians under the eye of hundreds of

police.

Algeria will tackle Nigeria, who lost 1-0 in an earlier semifinal

match to the youthful Ghana side, in the third place play-off match tomorrow.


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