Security lockdown in Sudan

KHARTOUM - Sudan tightened security on Monday with thousands of fans expected to fly in for a play-off between Egypt and Algeria that will settle the last of Africa's qualifying berths for next year's World Cup.

KHARTOUM - Sudan tightened security on Monday with thousands of fans expected to fly in for a play-off between Egypt and Algeria that will settle the last of Africa's qualifying berths for next year's World Cup.

Saturday's qualifier between the teams was preceded by an attack on the Algeria team bus by Egyptian youths, leaving three players with facial cuts. Fifa appealed for calm while the Egyptian FA said Thursday's incident was staged by Algerians.

Egypt won that match in Cairo 2-0 to force today's decider in neutral Sudan.

Abdelrahman al-Khidr, Khartoum's governor, said 15000 police would be out in force on the streets of Sudan's capital and security was tight at the hotels housing the teams.

"We have completed our preparations and are ready for any emergency," Khidr said. He said Sudan was expecting 48 planes full of Algerian fans and 18 from Egypt, with 2000 more Egyptians set to arrive by bus.

Each team would have 9000 tickets with 17000 reserved for Sudanese. Thousands of Egyptians work in Sudan but the Sudanese were supporting Algeria. Sudanese waved Algerian flags from their cars while Egyptian restaurants sported their flags. Riot police surrounded Khartoum's soccer stadiums while the teams trained on Monday night. Reporters and fans alike were barred. - Reuters

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