CAIRO (Reuters) – Mohamed “Ibn Nufal” Nufal, 24, kisses his mother goodbye in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as he sets off for the World Cup in Russia – on a bicycle.
After about 5,000 km (3,000 miles) and 65 days on the road, Nufal hopes to reach Moscow to see Egypt make its first appearance in the World Cup for 28 years.
Nufal plans to get there via Jordan, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. He will fly over Syria due to the civil war there and will also give Iraq a miss for security reasons.
On his bike, Nufal has packed spare parts, an extra phone, batteries and camping gear. In addition to his tent, Nufal will put up in hostels where he can find them, as well as relying on the kindness of strangers for a bed for the night.
“It is about the road more than the arrival,” he told Reuters Television. “If it were just about the World Cup, I would take a plane. It is a great chance for me to see new things.”
A group of cyclists and friends escorted Nufal as he started his trip on Saturday, and he hopes many more will offer him help along the way.
After clinching its World Cup spot in October, Egypt will compete on football’s ultimate stage for the first time since 1990.
(Reporting by Mostafa Salem, writing by Giles Elgood, editing by Larry King)