By Carles Grau Sivera
Cairo, Jan 30 (EFE).- The final whistle of the African Cup of Nations’ quarterfinals clash pitting Egypt against Morocco sparked euphoria among Egyptian fans in Cairo after the tension they hookah-smoked their way through.
Abdullah, 19, says he has never experienced such tension as he did during Egypt’s 2-1 extra-time win over Morocco.
“I was at the limit (of my nerves). I celebrated every time the ball was out of our goal as if it was a goal (for us),” he told Efe at the end of the game.
He and his friends were among hundreds of fans who crowded into a cafe far from central Cairo, where football has been banned in recent years following the uprising that broke out on 25 January 2011.
Around Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, popular cafes where Egyptians usually congregate to watch football were closed, guarded by police.
It is difficult to watch a football match in central Cairo, where the government tries to avoid having crowds gather.
Only a few cafes with patios, far from the main arteries, on Sunday welcomed a few dozen of fans who quietly cheered for their team in the complicated clash.
Others resorted to electronics stores to watch the match on the televisions on display.
However, in the nearby neighborhood of Mounira, more popular and less guarded than the area around Tahrir Square, the picture is completely different.
Applause, shouts, nerves and even firecrackers were some of the ways that fans cheered for the Egyptian team playing 3,500 kilometers away in Cameroon.
Ihab, 25, told Efe that he has had to contain himself in order not to lose his head in a game “full of tension.”
Some Egyptians hookah-smoked their way through the anxiety despite a coronavirus-related ban on the public use of the device.