Egypt’s Station

I’m so confused.

I know I said that I wasn’t going to post anymore, but the truth is that I have been avidly following the 2018 FIFA World Cup (Toni “The Surgeon” Kroos has long been my favorite player — despite being a team mate of Ramos the Animal), and I have to confess that I’m a little puzzled about the Egyptian team — not to mention why Paul McCartney is still releasing mediocre albums at the age of 76.

As everyone knows, The Pharaohs are about to play Saudi Arabia tomorrow in a meaningless game.

Now it’s a false and vicious accusation that the fix is in, and that the noble sons of Egypt have been instructed to allow the Green Falcons to win — in return for a few more interest-free billions to line Egypt’s state coffers.

Ditto the vile and completely despicable rumor that the entire team expects to be arrested, once they step on the tarmac at Cairo International, this for ineptly dashing the hopes of 100 million Egyptians, 18 million Syrians (minus the Alawite dogs), and 37 million Iraqis (less the Shi’a apostates), and of course zero Palestinians (for Jared’s visit).

Man, can Ramzan do the Zorba, or what?! And how he loves to hand out citizenship to actors and footie players!

What confused me was not the thunderbolt that crackled down out of the Chechian blue sky (the Egyptian soccer federation had decided that it would be a good idea for the Pharaohs to camp out and practice in that democratic paradise in preparation for the World Cup) earlier today — namely, the rumor (pooh-poohed immediately by Al Ahram, Egypt’s semi official newspaper) that Mohamed Salah may no longer play for Egypt’s National team after tomorrow.

No, I wasn’t confused by the Salah rumor, the same way it did not surprise me that a now notorious party took place in the St. Petersburg hotel where the Pharaohs were staying — on the very night before their crucial game against Russia.

Allegedly some famous television presenter by the improbable name of Poussy Chalabi distracted the noble sons of Egypt with a mucky-muck late night revel sponsored by WE, a state mobile network that’s trying to establish itself in the land of denial.

 “Who allowed this chaos?” said Ibrahim Fayeq, a sports anchor at a private TV channel. “And who convinced these celebrities that their presence was so essential for Egypt to win?”

No, what confused me, and has from the very start, is the VERY NAME of Egypt’s team.


Some historical background is in order.

Not only have Egyptians never booted themselves past the first round of any World Cup (they’ve been to three), but they’ve never actually won a single game, like ever, in FIFA competition — unless you count the 1934 qualifying games they played in against the so-called Mandate Palestine team (which was entirely composed of players who had emigrated from places like Poland and Russia), a team that Egypt refreshingly thrashed — twice.

Now that awesome team (which should have beaten Hungary in the first round of play, but also had the game stolen from them by suspect refs, abetted by the lack of VAR in those distant. less technically advanced pre-WW2 days) was known not as as “The Pharaohs”– as you can clearly see from the above 1934 Al Ahram photograph. It was known as Egypt’s selected/elected team (“team” being the meaning of the word faree‘, used above), or, as it is even more simply known nowadays: Egypt’s Selected.

منتخب مصر


So where and when did this “Pharaohs” nick come about?

Beats me.

What puzzled me, is why would a country that is 90 per cent Moslem wish to have its footie team associated with people who worshiped crocodiles?

And if you are trying to project an image of the modern three-dimensional game, why used a nick that brings to mind static, two-dimensional figures?

Could it be that, much like Paul McCartney, Egypt is still stuck in past glories that it shall never replicate?

I say not.

While work on great projects in wind and solar energy and water desalination has already commenced, those who run the branding department of Egypt’s Selected decided to go with sarcophagi and dead boy kings. thereby forcing Masr fans to dress up as King Tut drag queens when cheering their team in person at the pitch.

Time to get with the times, fellas,

There’s never gonna be another Hard Day’s Night, but a future far different from what we can now imagine surely awaits.

UPDATE:  Egypt loses 2-1 to one of the worst teams in the 2018 World Cup, in a wheelie-bin match that looked like it was being played by two semi pro sides in front of a half-empty Volgograd stadium. The endlessly grating noise of zoomaras (Egypt’s version of the vuvuzelas that ruined the experience of the 2010 South African World Cup) punctuated the atrociously inferior level of rubbish football skill displayed here. Guardian reader wags, after the game, had Mo going from a Sunni disposition to shiite. The sons of Egypt have yet to win a single game in three different FIFA appearances, stretching over 84 years. Maybe football creativity, or creativity in general, can only truly thrive where people are free, sí?

N.B.:  For spot-on insights into the regional ME shenanigans behind the 2018 World Cup and the next one, which will be held in Qatar, read this.

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