Algerian football fans lived on their nerves, as they searched for opportunities to travel in order to advocate for the defending champion, as all the options available to them include expensive flights, and they require transit through one of the European countries, specifically France..
And in light of the strict measures related to travel restrictions, it does not seem that the stadiums of Cameroonian cities will witness a prominent presence of Algerian fans, similar to the last tournament hosted by Cairo and known as a strong representation of the masses in the stands..
Cairo is still witness to the great march of Algerian supporters towards the finals of the African Nations Cup in 2019, where 28 Algerian planes flew in one day towards Cairo to attend the final of the African Nations, carrying more than 4,800 fans..
However, the passion for the terraces has prompted many Algerian tourism agencies to consider organizing affordable road trips, challenging the length of the distance between Yaounde and Algiers, which is about 4 thousand kilometers.
The programming of those flights from Algeria, through Niger, then Nigeria, and from there to Cameroon, has already been announced, for a 30-hour trip on group buses, at a price of 500 euros per person, excluding accommodation expenses..
But this project quickly dissipated, as the head of the National Tourism Federation, Said Boukhalifa, stressed that organizing such trips is “a risk in every sense of the word, due to the health and security conditions facing the continent.”.
Boukhalifa told Sky News Arabia: “In any case, the authorities will not authorize the convoys to cross the Algerian land border.“.
Air travel remains the only solution available to fans, and it is also facing difficulties and complications, in addition to the high ticket prices. “There is an opportunity to travel by plane, but it is very specific compared to the volume of demand,” Boukhalifa said.
A lottery encourages vaccination
Recently, the Ministry of Health, in coordination with one of the most important mobile phone companies in Algeria, announced the organization of a lottery to transport fans to Cameroon.
The company confirmed that it will ensure the transfer of 661 supporters to Cameroon to support the Algerian national team, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, where the lottery will be open to all citizens vaccinated against the Corona epidemic.
In this regard, the Dean of Algerian Doctors, Professor Baqat Berkani, stressed the need to respect the health measures in place to confront the Corona pandemic, referring to the health situation in Cameroon that “does not bode well.”.
Berkani told Sky News Arabia: “The opening of the airspace to travel to Cameroon should not be underestimated, because the situation may result in the epidemiological situation out of control after the fans return, especially since all indications indicate that the fourth wave of the epidemic is not far from Algeria.“.
Similar situation in Arab countries
The situation of Algerian fans is similar to that of most fans who want to support the seven participating Arab teams, namely Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Mauritania and Comoros.
The Arab community in Cameroon is considered the least in terms of number, for example, the Tunisians residing there do not exceed 65 people, according to the statistics of the Tunisian “Yasmin” Foundation for Research and Communication, which means that betting on the resident Arabs to encourage their country’s teams is not sufficiently feasible.
Algerian international player Marouane Zerrougui confirmed that the presence of the public in the African stands is a “strong incentive for Arab players.”.
Zrougui told “Sky News Arabia” that the Algerian national team will play several important matches in the African Nations Cup in Cameroon, especially if it qualified for the quarter-finals, stressing that “such confrontations need great moral support, and to hear the chants in the stands.”.
Algerian international player Issad Borhali also confirmed that this year’s Africa Cup of Nations will be “different at all levels, not only at the level of the public.”.
He added to “Sky News Arabia”: “The conditions for organizing the African Cup are not good, and all players, without exception, will be affected by the absence of fans in one way or another.”
This is the second time that Cameroon has organized the African Nations Cup, after 1972, in which only Morocco qualified from the Arab teams, and the Republic of the Congo won the title..