|They think they've won it already|
More than 12 hours after the game ended, I've had to close my hotel window to keep out the noise of honking cars on the street 13 floors below. Even the barbus – the Islamic fundamentalists who for ten years brought the country to its knees – are dancing in the streets.
|On the streets of Algiers|
After last weekend's two-nil defeat, Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika commandeered half of Air Algérie's fleet to convey supporters to neutral Khartoum for yesterday's play-off match – a move that nearly backfired when disappointed fans ransacked Algiers airport on learning there were not enough planes to go around. Such disappointment is a distant memory this morning as Algeria unites in ear-splitting harmony. Chanting supporters, young and old (including a fair helping of women) are once more bringing the streets, and the entire transport network, to a halt. Want a taxi, train or plane? Ask again in a couple of days.
Today's mass-selling Le Soir d'Algérie, normally a French-language newspaper, is headlined with a single word in Arabic: Dernaha (We've done it!) and inside we learn that the mountains, wadis, villages and dunes of the Algerian Sahara are emblazoned with a familiar-sounding slogan: "Impossible n'est pas algérien." Both on the streets and in the media everyone is hoping, everyone is – ironically – praying that football fever will hammer the final nail in the coffin of fundamentalism.