Friday 20th January 2006
You knew, I knew, that it just wouldn’t be simple to collect the tickets.
After various problems ordering the tickets online as I was told my browser not compatible. I ended up placing the order from Tokyo, and then having opted for the package available for each ground I realised when I counted the number of match tickets I had ordered that I was 2 short. Yes I had only ordered 29 instead of 31.
A quick check and I realised that I had initially forgotten the one off games that are to take place in Ismailia and Alexandria Stadium, so I placed a further order after the deadline for Internet orders had passed, this time I encountered no problems, when I expected the order to be rejected.
The information I received was that tickets would be posted to Egyptian addresses and that everyone else would have to collect their tickets from The Ministry of Youth, in Cairo. I set off early this morning to find the building my request for directions was met with the address being sent back to me – Floor 11, Meet Okba 26 July Street, Cairo, Egypt. Now I could have hailed the nearest Taxi and given him this address, but no I decided to follow the map and head off for 26 July Street. The street itself looks to be at least two mile long but for some reason I felt it was the other side of the river and so from the Nile Hilton I walked up the Corniche and met 26 July Street. It proved to be a busy dual carriageway which was at times elevated. I stuck to the roads at it’s side and kept going, over the island in the middle of the Nile. Just when I when I felt the Zaragoza syndrome coming on (A sense that you ought to give up looking and jump in a taxi after all. But then find the taxi driver tells you to get out and walk as the building is right in front of you) I spotted a sand coloured block , (they are all sand coloured, it would appear they have given up fighting with the elements and that all buildings just merge with the landscape) with the words Ministry of Youth draped at the top.
Walking round I could not see an inviting entrance as it appeared there was no one around. I then spotted an elderly gentleman sitting in a gatehouse between us, a firmly closed gate. I beckoned him over with my best Egyptian “Can you help me”, and showed him my football schedule. He opened the gate and told me it was the 11th Floor. Eureka.
Arriving on the 11th Floor, there were a handful of people there. At first I was asked who had sent me, and then why was I here. I explained to three volunteers that I was here to collect tickets. They beckoned me to sit down and said that this would be sorted later. After some 30 minutes a gentleman asked me for my order he took one look and said no, not today! I explained that I at least needed the ticket for today’s game. He went away again and came back with some 20 odd tickets and told me to come back tomorrow for the rest.
As I talked with the volunteers I found out that Hosni Mubarak, the president would be attending today’s game. He would be arriving at 5 p. m. and the gates of the stadium would be shut at 4! The game kicks off at 7 o’clock.
I also asked the volunteers for advice on how to get to the stadium their immediate reply was, get a taxi. We’ll see……