The Cairo Stadium
Losing is not an Option
by Seif Kamel
When Egyptians organize an event like the African Cup of Nations, they know exactly what they want out of it. Maybe there are a few problems or obstacles that got into their way, but Egyptians are well known to be the kindest hosts in the world. They know how to treat any person and make one feel at home.
This happens if the person comes from Europe, America, or Africa. "I feel I am at home here in Egypt". This is what a kid from Togo told me yesterday in the Cairo Stadium. I wasnt surprised when I saw three Egyptians with the Togo flag colors drawn on their faces. They would cheer when Togo gets a goal, feel sad if they had one scored against them, and celebrate with them at the end of the match. The team of Angola has many fans here in Egypt. This is because of Flavor and Gilberto, the two players on the team, who also play for the Ahly team here in Cairo. There were no less than three thousand Egyptians were in the stadium cheering for Angola. The game between Angola and Togo in the Cairo Stadium last Sunday was a totally amazing experience.
It was a rather cold night and I never expected to find so many football fans in the Cairo Stadium. However, there were a lot of people there. This was because the temperature of the tournament is getting hot and making it warm here in Cairo and the Cairo Stadium is like a piece of art now.
One will also notice that the Cairo Stadium is that it is full of kids of all ages. There were even some cute young girls running up and down the stairs of the Cairo Stadium just like a play ground. Some of them were wearing a new invention. It is a cotton mask with the colors of the Egyptian flag and it has become popular among fans in the stadium. I even bought one myself to scare my mother. Kids as young at two years old were walking and running freely with their brothers or friends.
There were lots of Egyptian families in the Cairo Stadium as well. I mean big families with many members of all ages. There was this man with his wife and they had four children with them and every one was enjoying the match in their own way. The man was watching the match, the women were watching their children, and the children were playing and eating chocolates. They all seemed very happy even if all of them were in their own worlds.
Everything in the Stadium felt new. Actually most of it is new. The last time I visited the Cairo Stadium was two years ago in a match between Ahly and Zamalek, the two most famous clubs in the Arab world. The Stadium was closed for a year afterwards, for renewals.
The renovation coast Egypt 150 million Egyptian pounds but now the Stadium will hold 74 thousand people. In fact, the stadium can hold as many as 120 thousand people in some matches when Egypt plays. Twenty-eight new Electronic gates have been placed for entrances and exits of the stadium, along with a number of gates for VIPs. Fifty new cameras have been fixed for live coverage of the matches, covering every angle of the pitch from inside, and there are fourteen cameras to supervise the spectators' entrance, sixteen cameras for supervision, four control units, along with 400 spot light to enlighten the stadium according to the FIFA regulations. The Cairo Stadium is now like any Stadium in Europe. Even the greenery of the field is much better now.
There is also a huge new Electronic scoreboard to display the match time, the score, and the temperature. During half time, they had the song by Samara Sated, which she sang in the opening ceremony, playing on the score board.
Some people were singing with it. They also showed goals from the other matches during half time on the new scoreboard.
The whole scene in the Cairo Stadium was amazing, with the fans of Angola and Togo to the left. The fans of Angola had a huge flag with them that all the people could see. Even the fans of Togo cheered their team even though they didnt win any game in Egypt 2006. I was sitting behind one of the goals and to the left, there were many men from the Egyptian Army watching the match and wearing colorful training uniforms. It was a trip organized to entertain the men. Most of them were having a new experience for them, visiting the Cairo Stadium is for the first time. Just beside me, there were many Egyptian football fans, mainly Ahly fans, who came to cheer for Angola. Flavor scored two goals and all the fans were calling his name out. People in Egypt are in love with the football of Angola and if Gilberto were playing, the Cairo Stadium would have been full of Ahly fans.
The game was really entertaining. Flavor scored the first goal for Angola but than Togo scored a goal to tie. Flavor was able to score again before the end of the first half and a player from Togo was also sent off. Nevertheless, after the half time, Togo scored a beautiful goal. Before the end of the match, Angola was able to suddenly score a goal that I missed because I was watching the stadium and the goal was so surprising. Yet, Angola had to win by two in order to stay in the match, which they failed to accomplish.
I wanted to get a view of the whole stadium so at one point I climbed to the second story of the Cairo Stadium. It is the largest stadium in Africa and some Africans call it the scary stadium. The weather up so high was so cold. This was why very few people were upstairs. However, in the matches of Egypt, all these places are usually taken. I was even able to see the second goal Angola scored clearly from there. It was one of the best places to watch the whole stadium, the match, and the fans.
When I went again to the first and main floor, there were many vendors selling chocolates and other snacks for to the kids. There was this amazing hot buttered popcorn for one Egyptian pound. It was great. I could eat four big bags of popcorn in one match. The thing that fascinated me is that they were selling tea and coffee, Nescafe, and Cappuccino. This might seem normal for any stadium in Europe but in Egypt it was something totally new. Therefore, many people were drinking hot drinks to feel warm. I got a cup of cappuccino and than a cup of tea in the second half time.
Going to the Cairo Stadium any time is a wonderful experience. However, the fun is magnified during the African Cup of Nations, Egypt 2006. This is because of the powerful African teams with their spectacular performances. However, there is a lot more action among the fans and children. It was the first time in history; the Cairo Stadium had so many girls. The next match between Egypt and Congo will be even more fun. Most of the tickets for that match are already sold out. There are seven thousand tickets for the second class seats in the Cairo Stadium. They were gone in two hours because seventy thousand people wanted to buy them. I will attend this match in the Cairo Stadium holding a huge sign saying: Here in Egypt, losing is not an option. So beware!!!
Last Updated: August 21st, 2011