Zurich: Ghana want a neutral venue for next month’s crucial World Cup play-off against Egypt, saying it is too dangerous to play the game in Cairo.
In a letter to Fifa published on its website, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) said the match should be moved to a “safe and secure” venue.
“Our request is premised on the alarming and fast deteriorating security situation in Egypt,” Ghana officials wrote.
At least 51 people were killed in riots in Cairo last weekend linked to the ousting of elected state president Mohammad Mursi.
The GFA said some of its players expressed “grave concern over their safety for the match”.
“Much as we sympathise with our brothers at the Egyptian Football Association, we are highly concerned about the security and safety of our players, officials and supporters and would like Fifa to take the necessary steps to protect lives and from both Ghana and Egypt during the second-leg game,” the letter stated.
Egypt are scheduled to host Ghana in Cairo on November 19 in the second leg to decide which country advances to next year’s tournament in Brazil. The first leg is October 15 in Kumasi.
The GFA notes that Egyptian authorities have barred spectators from football matches for the past two years, including World Cup qualifiers against Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Guinea.
The Egyptian team are coached by American Bob Bradley and their World Cup qualifying campaign has been buffeted by the political turmoil in the country.
The play-off draw last month paired Egypt with the powerful Ghana team, which reached the quarter-finals at the 2010 World Cup when they beat Bradley’s US team in the round of 16.
Now, Fifa could be forced by security risks to deny Egypt and their fans the chance to see the match on home ground.
“Events in the country pointedly indicate that our delegation could be exposed to danger as the violence and insecurity in the country continues relentlessly,” the Ghana letter said.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Egypt named 11 players from Cairo giants Al Ahli in a 26-man squad for the playoff and dropped English-born defender Adam Al Abd.
Bradley has selected the backbone of his team from the club who made a significant step on Sunday in their bid to retain the African Champions League title by holding Coton Sport of Cameroon to a 1-1 draw away in the first leg of their semi-final.
Al Abd from Brighton and Hove Albion, who scored an own goal in last month’s qualifier against Guinea, has been dropped along with the Belgian-based defensive duo of Ahmad Ouka and Ahmad Samir Farag, the Egyptian Football Association said on their website (www.efa.com.eg).
Egypt, who made their last World Cup appearance in 1990, host the return leg in Cairo on November 19. The aggregate winner qualifies for next year’s finals in Brazil.
Meanwhile, Ghana suffered a huge blow ahead of the month as Kevin-Prince Boateng was ruled out of the first leg on October 15 because of a left knee injury.
The 26-year-old, one of the stars of the Ghana side that reached the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, suffered the injury in his club Schalke’s 4-1 Bundesliga victory over Augsburg on Saturday.
Boateng only just agreed to return to the national side after staying away for two years, but he was unable also to play in their final World Cup group match against Zambia last month because of an injury he picked up in training for the game.
The winners of the play-off qualify for the finals in Brazil next year.