CAIRO: With less than two weeks ahead of the World Cup qualifiers game, which will see Egypt going against their fellow African country Ghana, the whole country is on edge, but for Ghana Ambassador to Egypt Alhaji Said Sinare, it is an especially tense position.
Born to an Egyptian mother, Sinare spent five years of his youth in Egypt, receiving free education, while his father was living in exile at the time due to his political affiliations.
“I’m in the middle of a crossfire,” said Sinare, adding that if it were up to him, both countries would qualify to the World Cup finals.
Sinare admits that when he found out that Ghana would play against Egypt in the qualifiers, he was “very disappointed.”
Despite his loyalty to both countries, Sinare is certain that his native country would be the one heading to Brazil for the finals.
“Let’s be honest, we have a better team,” he said. “We’ve groomed our players from the under-20 league, so they’re very young compared to Egypt’s players.”
However, regardless of the outcome, Sinare assures that it will not affect the relations between the two countries. “Whoever wins should take it in good faith…it’s just a game,” he added.
Football aside, Sinare describes the relationship between Ghana and Egypt as a very strong one.
“The relationship goes a very long way, for the past 50 years we have regarded Egypt as a very important partner,” said Sinare.
However, Sinare points out that in the past, Egypt has made the mistake of not focusing on its relationship with African countries – a mistake he hopes will be fixed in the future.
“Africa is the future,” he stated.
According to Sinare, there is a lot that can be done between Egypt and the rest of Africa in terms of trade since other countries in Africa have resources that Egypt lacks. Sinare has also been encouraging people in Ghana and other African countries to come to Egypt if they want to buy products, he said.
Regarding the African Union’s (AU) decision to suspend Egypt’s membership following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, claiming it was a ‘military coup,’ Sinare said that it was not a decision pertaining to Egypt alone but rather the result of an AU measure from 2000 to fight against military coups in the whole continent.
“I would be happy to see Egypt gain its seat back,” said Sinare, adding that the suspension would be lifted once the AU sees that the roadmap is being properly implemented.
“We want the Egyptian people to know that we are behind them but it’s important for us to see Egypt stabilize,” said Sinare.
Despite the Ghana Football Association filing requests for FIFA to change the location of the second leg match between Egypt and Ghana to a venue other than Cairo, the match is set to be played on November 19 at the Air Defense Stadium.
“My fear is that there will be Ghana supporters in the stadium, if something should go wrong the Egyptian football fans would want to retaliate,” said Sinare.
Sinare added that the Ghana FA met with their Egyptian counterpart to discuss the issue of safety and have enforced a few security measures which he could not reveal.
The ambassador himself will be at the stadium, considering that he is a big football fan and used to be the president of a football team in Ghana called the Olympics.
“At the end of the day, I don’t see a winner or loser,” said Sinare. “The only winner is Africa.”