A more relaxed scene you couldn’t imagine. The kitman offers us chocolates as Zidan climbs up out of the pool. “Now we take a breather,” he explains toweling himself off, “because that game was so important to us. It was a revenge game.” Revenge of course because it was bitter rivals Algeria who denied Egypt the chance to play in the World Cup in South Africa. “This was a fire game,” he adds, a mischievous gleam in his eye. It certainly was. The match began with the two sets of fans lighting flares but that was just the start of the fireworks. With the thumping bass drum and giant red and black flags of the Egyptians on our right and the relentless chanting and bouncing of the green and white bedecked Algerians on our left, we felt like we were witnessing two historic armies preparing to meet on the battlefield.
And on the pitch it certainly was war. For the first 40 minutes, the two sides probed for an opening and then a mistake by the Algerian defense allowed the onslaught to begin. One converted penalty and a sending off later and the Desert Foxes carefully laid plans were wrecked. Their brave flowing football that had seen off tournament favorites Ivory Coast was now replaced with recklessness and desperation.
During the warm up, a group of Egypt players had demonstrated the deftness of their passing game with a game of piggy in the middle - the two players in the center couldn’t get near the ball, so quick and clever were their team-mates’ touch. Now Algeria were receiving the same treatment and they weren’t liking it one bit. It didn’t take long for frustration to set in and by the end of the game they had only eight men left on the pitch. Meanwhile the Egypt team including goal scorer Zidan were celebrating a famous 4-0 victory and their passage into the final against Ghana.
Now history beckons. Success for Egypt against the West Africans and they’ll be crowned Cup of Nations winners for the third time in a row. Now that certainly is something worth singing about. Even if it is out of tune.