Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

Algeria footballers hurt in Cairo


Algerian footballers hit by stones

Four members of the Algerian football squad were injured when their team bus came under attack from stone throwers as it arrived in Cairo.

Algeria and Egypt, who are bitter football rivals, play a World Cup qualifying match in Cairo on Saturday.

Egyptian police have denied that anyone was injured in the incident, and the press accuses the Algerians of fabricating the whole thing.

But a Fifa official has said three players might have to miss the match.

A reporter for Algerian radio said that about 200 young people appeared just as the team arrived at a Cairo hotel and launched a hail of stones at the bus. Algerian radio has been reporting that three players were injured.

'Blood on the floor'

The Algerian sports minister, Hachemi Djiar, is reported to have described the incident as "very regrettable".

These weren't superficial injuries. With the stitches needed, we will have to see if these players can play
Walter Gagg

An official from Fifa, international football's governing body, told the AFP news agency that Algerian players were injured.

"We saw that three players had been injured - Khaled Lemmouchia on the head, Rafik Halliche above the eye and Rafik Saifi on the arm," Walter Gagg said.

"These weren't superficial injuries. With the stitches needed, we will have to see if these players can play. The team doctor has still to make a decision on that," he added.

Mr Gagg also said that Algeria's goalkeeping coach had suffered concussion, and described the bus itself as in a "very bad way with broken windows and traces of blood on the floor".


"The players were afraid. They were terrified," he said.

AFP also reported a Fifa spokesman as saying: "We have reiterated to the Egyptian association our request that all security measures be taken so that the match can go ahead."

Egyptian and Algerian officials have been trying to calm tension ahead of the match.

The teams have an intense rivalry that goes back decades. The last time they met in a major tournament in 1989, the match was followed by riots.

The Egyptian team has to win by a three-goal margin to qualify for the World Cup finals next year in South Africa.

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