Egypt coach Hector Cuper believes that the return of fans to the stands is a must for Egyptian football.
“Fans must return to attend matches. It is impossible to see football games without supporters,” the Argentinean manager said in a TV interview with CBC satellite channel late Friday.
Football spectators were banned in Egypt since February 2012 when 72 Ahly fans died in the Port Said Stadium disaster. In February this year the ban was lifted but immediately reimposed after 20 Zamalek fans died in a stampede at the Cairo Air Defence Stadium.
Cairo giants Zamalek, the current league and cup champions, and archrivals Ahly have repeatedly asked Egyptian authorities in recent months to allow fans to return. Their requests have been rejected amid fears of fresh fatal incidents.
“We all know the reasons behind fans’ absence, but they must return,” said the 59-year-old tactician, Cuper, who took charge of the Pharaohs in March on a three-year deal.
“Fans’ effect is always a positive one. They always motivate you to achieve your goals. I hope they will be available in Egypt’s coming matches,” he concluded.
Earlier in September, Egyptian Minister of Sports Khaled Abdel-Aziz said the country would allow fans to attend any home match involving the national team in the qualifying campaigns for the 2017 African Cup of Nations and 2018 World Cup. The minister’s declaration is yet to be applied.
Egypt, the winners of three successive Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2006, 2008 and 2010 will play two friendly matches in UAE, facing Senegal on 8 October before playing Zambia three days later.
The seven-time African champions are preparing for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers where they will face the winner of a match between Sierra Leone and Chad in the first stage of the qualifiers in November:
Egypt is also contesting the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifiers and is currently top of Group G with six points after beating Tanzania 3-1 in June and Chad 5-1 in September.
Egypt face Nigeria 23 March 2016 as Group G continues.
source: Ahram online