By Mouna Sadek
In the run-up to the CAN 2013 qualifier between Algeria and Libya on September 9th, thousands of Algerian football fans are desperately trying to get to Morocco.
Morocco was chosen as the venue for the game by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) because of security problems in Libya.
But with the land border closed, Algeria supporters are in a difficult situation. Air fares cost in the region of 500 euros and few seats are available.
More than 5,000 supporters reportedly want to make the trip to Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca to support their team. At the same time, many tourists have also decided to spend their holidays in Morocco.
Algeria-based airlines have not yet prepared extra flights for the flood of football fans and holidaymakers to Morocco, travel industry official Cherif Menacer told Magharebia.
In Algiers, supporters and journalists have flocked to the headquarters of Royal Air Maroc (RAM) in search of tickets for flights from Algiers to Casablanca, which are fully booked.
On August 26th, El Khabar reported that networks of Algerian and Moroccan agents have sprung up along the border between the two countries to enable supporters, who were prevented from travelling by the high air fares and limited numbers of seats, to go to the match for 1,000 dirhams. Citing security sources, the newspaper revealed that measures have been taken to boost border security.
Some fans made no secret of their disappointment. “Morocco is so close and yet so far away because of the border being closed. We could have gone there in the car instead of queuing outside travel agencies,” Azziz Guesmia told Magharebia.
Mohand Abad, a trader, said that airlines should have made a special effort to lay on flights to Casablanca to enable the many Algerian football fans to support their team – especially, he said, because the support of fans is often a decisive factor.
“Casablanca isn’t on the other side of the world, it’s barely an hour and forty-five minutes by plane from Algiers,” he commented. “We could have celebrated Algeria’s victory with our Moroccan friends!”