(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Sudan braced for an influx of Algerian and Egyptian fans yesterday ahead of this week's crunch World Cup qualification play-off amid mounting fears of trouble between the rival supporters.
Police deployed in numbers when the two squads flew in to Khartoum on Sunday and there was no repetition of the stone-throwing by Egyptian fans which left three Algerian players injured when they arrived ahead of Saturday's game in Cairo.
But outbreaks of violence in Algeria and among the Algerian community in France following the 2-0 Egyptian victory in that match which forced Wednesday's neutral-venue play-off here ratcheted up the security worries.
The Sudanese Football Federation insisted that no special steps were being taken for the game at a 40,000 seat stadium in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman.
"Security measures will be in place as for any other international fixture," a Federation official said.
But the Khartoum police were due to unveil a security plan later in the day.
State-owned flag-carrier Air Algerie unveiled plans on Sunday to fly 10,000 Algerian fans to Sudan for the game.
Thirty special flights were being laid on from Algiers with fans being charged around 200 dollars for a return ticket, a quarter of the usual fare, the official APS news agency reported.
Air Algerie executive chairman Abdelouahid Bouabdallah said that both the match tickets and the Sudanese entry visas would be free for the lucky fans who secured places on the special flights.
The Algerian capital saw anti-Egyptian disturbances as the tickets went on sale at the airline's offices.
Fans broke through the metal shutters of Egypt Air's nearby offices and proceeded to ransack them, an AFP journalist said.
The offices of mobile telephone company Djeezy, part of the Egyptian telecommunications group Orascom, were also ransacked, the website of the El Watan daily reported.
The company also said one of its employees was assaulted at Algiers airport.
In France, there were disturbances in the cities of Grenoble, Lyon and Marseille.
The Egyptian foreign ministry summoned the Algerian ambassador yesterday to seek increased security for its nationals in Algeria.
Cairo wants "assurances that the Algerian authorities are doing everything necessary to ensure the safety of Egyptian nationals in Algeria," deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs Abdel Rahman Salah told reporters.
Algiers had sought similar assurances from Cairo after its players were injured when stones were thrown at their bus as they being driven from the airport to the team hotel last week.
Despite that appeal, 20 Algerians were among 32 people injured in clashes after Saturday's game.
Egypt's victory in that match left the two teams tied on 13 points with the same goal difference forcing Wednesday's play-off. The North African rivals have a history of bad blood, with riots breaking out after Egypt defeated Algeria in a 1989 match in Cairo. Algeria player Lakhdar Belloumi was tried in absentia and sentenced to prison in Egypt for allegedly seriously injuring the Egyptian team doctor with a bottle after that match.
Egypt last qualified for the World Cup in 1990, and Algeria in 1986.
Meanwhile, Bahrain have little time to dwell on the heartache of their World Cup playoff defeat to New Zealand at the weekend as they return home to host Yemen in a 2011 Asian Cup qualifier tomorrow.
Bahrain coach Milan Macala successfully requested the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) move the match to Wednesday, an official FIFA fixture date, from the original in January in order to have a full squad available.
However, the Czech faces the task of lifting a squad who suffered a 1-0 aggregate defeat in their World Cup playoff in Wellington on Saturday, the second successive campaign they have missed out at that stage.
Bahrain, second in Group A on six points, are three clear of third place Yemen after two matches.
In the other Group A match, leaders Japan will be confident of victory against bottom side Hong Kong. Espanyol midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura is expected to play for Japan after coming on as a second half substitute in their 0-0 friendly draw with South Africa on Saturday.
"I didn't play many minutes (against South Africa)... but some good things happened," Nakamura told reporters.
In Group E Iran and second placed Thailand, coached by former England and Manchester United captain Bryan Robson, are closing in on places at the finals.
Victory for Thailand at home to Singapore, who they beat 3-1 away on Saturday, would leave Robson's side on the brink of a place at the finals in Qatar.
"I'm only thinking about getting a positive result on Wednesday and I don't want to think further than that," Robson told reporters after Saturday's victory.
Leaders and three times champions Iran, who narrowly beat Jordan 1-0 at home on Saturday, face a tricky return against the bottom placed side on Sunday. Elsewhere, Syria and Uzbekistan can book their places at the finals in Qatar if they win their matches tomorrow. Syria host Vietnam aiming to make it four wins from four in Group D with China knowing a win at home to Lebanon on Sunday in the other group match, would leave them within a point of qualifying.
In Group C leaders Uzbekistan travel to Malaysia chasing the victory that will book them a place in Qatar and in Group B, Kuwait can leapfrog leaders Australia if they beat Indonesia.