Tickets went on sale today for the Egypt v Algeria match on Saturday. Boys have already started selling flags on the streets in the lead-up to the match, and it’s rivaling swine flu as the top story of the day.

This is Egypt’s last chance to get into the 2010 World Cup, and the build-up is intense. Algeria needs to win, draw or even lose by just one goal to qualify, but Egypt needs a three-goal margin to qualify. If they come out two goals ahead, they’ll go into another play-off in Sudan on 18 November.

The match will be held at Cairo Stadium, which holds 80,000 fans, and organisers are upping the security to stop them from bringing in fireworks and…lighters. Um, hello, in a country where smoking is a profession? When we watched the Egypt v Zambia match at the stadium, they even took the poles out of our flags.

Fans on both sides have been slagging each other off online for weeks in what’s been described as a cyber-war that’s downright nasty. They’ve hacked the websites of the major newspapers and even the prez, Hosni Mubarak, isn’t immune, with his own website getting done over.

An Algerian song on YouTube is poking at Egypt’s defeat in the 1967 Six Day war with Israel (“We are not the ones who sold Palestine to the Jews”) while Egypt slapped back with the gibe, “”We liberated you when France made you slaves/Talk to me in French because your Arabic is so broken.” As you can see, they’re playing nice.

I love the fact the National Heart Institute has issued a warning to heart patients, telling them not to watch the match. Quoting a Swiss study that found a 60 percent rise in heart attacks in the last World Cup, the good doctor has advised Egyptians to exercise, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol and refrain from fast food before watching the match.

Women and girls are being told to stay home (they can’t shout loud enough, anyway), though with a history of rioting at previous games between the two countries, many girls will be happy to steer clear.

If Egypt wins, Cairo will burn and the car horns won’t stop till dawn. If she loses, this will be one sorry city.