Since then, Egypt's national team has played in Alexandria and more recently in the Red Sea resort of El Gouna to avoid the unrest that has swept through Cairo and other major cities. The games have largely been played behind closed doors, although a few thousand supporters were allowed in to watch in El Gouna.
Despite being the record seven-time African champion, Egypt's football has been tied to the upheaval at home that began with the 2011 overthrow of longtime President Hosni Mubarak. Then the three-time defending champion, Egypt surprisingly failed to qualify for the 2012 African Cup and also missed out on the continental championship this year in South Africa.
The first leg of the decisive World Cup playoff is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Ghana.
Follow Gerald Imray at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP