BRENT LATHAM - Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Greetings from Cairo. I've just touched down and am ready to kick off nearly two months following the American youth teams on their adventures through the African continent. In about a month, the U-17 team that has everyone excited at the chance for a FIFA World Cup title for the US will kick off against Spain in Nigeria, and we'll (vaccinations and visas pending) be there.
But the first stop on this tour is alongside the River Nile, where the Under-20 tournament is about to kick off, on Thursday, with the fanfare you would expect for small country. In the US, where we host mega-events on an almost daily basis, it's easy to underestimate the importance to a small country of hosting an event like this. But make no mistake, this event is a milestone for Egypt and Egyptian soccer, and they're pulling out all the stops, from a receiving committee and red carpet at the airport for anyone that can show they have anything to do with FIFA, to the best hotels in the country for the numerous FIFA staff in attendance here, including CONCACAF President Jack Warner and FIFA Chair Sepp Blatter. (YA stays in more pedestrian lodging, preferring to brush elbows with the real fans of the game.)
The American team has arrived in country as well, getting here yesterday after a week in Cyprus, and moving on immediately to their base Suez, where we'll catch up with them later this week. The team looks to be coming together well after consecutive 2-0 friendly wins this week against Trinidad and Tobago and Australia, two teams they had failed to beat in previous encounters this year. Certainly there's room for more optimism about the Americans then is generally being expressed in the media and amongst fans.
I'll be blogging all week and into the tournament, and we have a number of other surprises planned in the coming days as well, so check back frequently. You can also keeping up to date on the goings on in the Cradle of Civilization by checking in on YA twitter, @yanksabroad for soccer related news, or my personal twitter @brentjavan if you're interested in my cultural and social insights.
See you soon.