FIFA official downplays Ghana request to play outside Egypt

Hany Abou Rida

FIFA executive committee member Hani Abou-Rida, an Egyptian, has downplayed Ghana's request for their World Cup playoff against Egypt to be played outside the country due to security concerns.

"This is psychological warfare against the national team and should be ignored. We should only focus on the match," Abou-Rida told the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) on Saturday.

The Ghana Football Association (GFA) sent a letter to FIFA last week demanding the second leg of the World Cup playoff on 19 November be played outside Egypt due to the country's difficult security situation.

"I don't like exaggeration. The EFA has already responded firmly and FIFA don't make their decisions based on media reports. I trust the ability of the Egyptian authorities [to secure the match]," he added.

FIFA has given Egypt until 28 October to provide "comprehensive security assurances" for the playoff second-leg, which is due to take place at the army-owned Air Defence Stadium in Cairo.

Former EFA vice-president Abou-Rida also expressed confidence that American manager Bob Bradley and his squad would earn a ticket to the world's most prestigious tournament after an absence of 24 years.

"I will always support the national team and help them whenever I'm asked," Abou-Rida concluded.

Egypt, which cancelled two successive football leagues due to security troubles, has been in turmoil since the army ousted elected president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July following mass protest against his rule.

The playoff first leg will take place in Kumasi on Tuesday.