IN CAIRO, EGYPT
Egypt is preparing to receive some anticipated thousands of Algerian and Senegalese fans for the Africa Cup of Nations final that will be held on Friday at the 74,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium.
Already Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority have ordered maximum readiness at the Cairo International Airport, calling on employees at the facility to do their utmost in serving the travelling fans.
About 1,500 Algerian fans arrived at Cairo Airport on Sunday on board nine planes for their semi-final clash against Nigeria that the Desert Foxes won 2-1. More are expected for the final as the Desert Foxes chase for their first title in 29 years, and only their second.
Security will be a concern for the Egyptian authorities with some unpleasant incident breaking out during the semi-final in Cairo when a section of the Algerian fans clashed with Egyptian spectators.
Prior to the match, authorities tried hard to segregate the fans directing Algerian spectators to different entry points from those used by Nigerian and other fans.
With emotions expected to run high, even at the media stand where this Africa Cup of Nations has seen some unpleasant and unprofessional conduct from certain sports journalists, the tournament organising committee will have to be extra careful.
Presence of security at this Afcon has been massive and at times unwieldy with their elaborate bag and body search at match venue entrances.
Security has included the ordinary policemen and women in white, the riot squad in their intimidating space-age black attire, the ubiquitous men in black with bulging sides that leaves no doubt what they are packing, men in orange t-shirts with cop written all over their faces and the men in black and yellow vests, who suddenly appeared en masse during the Algeria/Nigeria match when crowd trouble flared up, and quickly quietened the situation.
“The entire security operations for the tournament has involved the police, secret service, military, African security, fire service and the ministry of interior and intelligence services,” said Caf head of safety and security Christian Emeruwa.
Fans attending matches must have a unique Fan Identification acquired online that allows a person to purchase tickets and access the stadium. The Fan ID ensures that background check is made on the person for tournament security to know who is coming to the stadium.
Incidentally, gates were opened last year for fans to return to stadiums in Egypt after the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) banned live attendance in February 2012 following riots in Port Said Stadium during a Premier League match involving Al Masry and Al Ahly. Dozens of fans died in the riots, one of the worst in Egyptian football history.
Egypt will no doubt want to end the tournament in fine fashion and will pull out all stops to ensure curtains come down on the 2019 Afcon with no major incidents.