Algerians home and away cheer World Cup win

19th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Algerians at home and abroad exploded with joy as the final whistle sounded in Khartoum to send the north African country to its first football World Cup since 1986.

ALGIERS - Cheers broke out around Algeria at the end of the match, after what one supporter, 45-year-old Djamel, called "90 minutes of the worst agonies".

In France, celebrations were marred by violence in some areas, with cars set alight and police firing tear gas.

Hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, flooded into the streets in towns and villages across Algeria, celebrating with flags, fireworks and car horns.

Even a few police officers lost their cool, sounding their sirens to join in the rapture at the triumph of "les Verts" -- Algeria's green-shirted side who beat Egypt 1-0 in the do-or-die playoff in Khartoum.

Around Algiers, fans shouted "Thank you, les Verts", "One, two, three, viva Algeria" and "We're going to the World Cup".

Packed into cars and running through the crowded streets, young men and women -- many wrapped in the green and white national flag -- beamed with happiness.

"It's too much, they've given us everything," said Naima, 18, laughing and crying at once.

"Do you have any idea what the tension was like? We've shown our support for the team since they were beaten in Cairo on Saturday and now we've done it. The dream has come true!" one of her friends shouted.

Huge crowds turned out on the promenade in the western coastal city of Oran and similar scenes of jubilation were reported in other towns and villages around the country.

"The players took their revenge on the pitch and they gave joy to all the Algerian people," said Mohamed Raouraoua, president of the Algerian football federation, the APS news agency reported.

The mood was very different in Cairo, where the normally traffic-packed streets were deserted during the match.

Young Egyptian supporters took to the streets to bang drums and set off firecrackers after their side's defeat, but their heart was not in it.

"One day you win, one day you lose," Egyptian supporter Khaled Hassan said philosophically, referring to his team's 2-0 win over the "Desert Foxes" in Cairo on Saturday.

In one cafe a man fainted on the final whistle and was put into a taxi by his friends.

In France, which ruled Algeria until independence in 1962, euphoria reigned in parts of Paris, where crowds of Algerians and French Algerians gathered in the Barbes area to celebrate the win with cheers, flags and firecrackers.

Across the French capital, convoys of cars drove up and down the streets, flying the Algerian flag and sounding their horns, often cheered by passers-by awaiting the outcome of the France-Ireland match.

Algerian supporters crowded the Champs Elysees, which was closed to traffic, celebrating their victory. Several threw bottles at police, who responded with tear gas.

Several motor scooters and trash bins were later set alight and windows of several businesses smashed, with a Mont Blanc pen shop looted.

Horns blared and Algerian music played in the southern French port of Marseille as the city's sizeable Algerian and French-Algerian population celebrated the win.

More than 1,000 people gathered in the centre of the eastern French city of Lyon, but the celebrations were marred by violence as around a dozen cars were set alight, according to police.

Police in the eastern town of Grenoble used tear gas and made three arrests as more vehicles were burned. Tear gas was also fired in Marseille to disperse a few dozen bottle-throwing young people in the Old Port district.

More than 20 people were arrested in the northern city of Roubaix after several cars and trash bins were set on fire and windows broken, police said.


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