BENGUELA, January 28 – At least 2,000 fans from Algeria and Egypt are expected to fly in for for the latest episode in the bitter rivals' quest for soccer supremacy in Thursday's Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.
"I can confirm that we expect 1,000 fans from Algeria and the same number from Egypt for this match," FIFA security officer, Bolaji Ojo-Oba, told AFP.
As a result of the intense rivalry between the two north African teams, security will be stepped up for the fixture.
Up to now each match at the Benguela centre in the tournament has been overseen by over 1,000 security personnel.
Officials are playing down fears of a repeat of the violent clashes that took place the last time the two countries met when over 13,000 Algerian fans flew into Sudan to watch Algeria beat Egypt 1-0 in a play-off for the 2010 World Cup in November.
Egypt and Algeria’s foreign ministers, speaking by phone on Tuesday, agreed on the importance for both sides of approaching the match in Benguela "wisely", an Egyptian ministry spokesman said.
The Arab League also called for the two countries to overcome their differences and "prove that the friendship and historic ties between Egypt and Algeria are too strong to be affected by a temporary crisis".
A CAF official, who wished to remain anonymous, said also on Tuesday they do not expect any problems and that adequate arrangements had been put in place to prevent any injuries at the headline game.
"We do not envisage any problems as has been the case since the competition started at our centre.
"There was a security meeting on Tuesday morning and if need be, we would tighten security but there is nothing to suggest that right now," he said.
"We will of course separate both sets of fans inside the stadium to guard against any problems."
Egypt international striker Mohamed Zidan has already stoked the fire of this perennial rivalry between his country and Algeria, describing the game as "war" and saying The Pharaohs had to win it to confirm they deserve to be at the World Cup, and not Algeria.
"It will be a matter of life and death in that game. For both sides it will be like a war," said the Borussia Dortmund star.
"For us, it is a chance to show the world that we deserve to go to the World Cup and if we beat them, we will be able to watch the World Cup with pride."
Algeria had a first feel of the Ombaka Stadium Wednesday night watched for the first 20 minutes by a large contingent of journalists and photographers before it was closed to the media.
The Desert Foxes’ injury worries appear to have eased as Wolfsburg midfielder Karim Ziani trained with the rest of the squad along with another injury doubt, Mourad Meghni.
Lazio midfielder Meghni cut short training on Tuesday evening, complaining of a problem with his knee.