Egypt became the second African country to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with a 2-1 win against Congo on Sunday in Alexandria.
Mohamed Salah proved Egypt’s hero, scoring twice, including a last-gasp penalty, to send the Pharaohs to their first World Cup finals since 1990 in a dramatic clash on Sunday with Congo.
More than 80,000 supporters at Alexandria’s Borg El-Arab erupted into ecstasy when Salah broke the deadlock three minutes past the hour mark as Egypt looked close to realizing a long-held dream, having made the last of their two World Cup appearances 27 years ago in Italy.
However, the atmosphere was subdued and many fans shed tears when Congo’s Arnold Bouka equalized with a half-volley after a defensive lapse with three minutes remaining.
With the clock ticking down in stoppage time and a victory desperately required, Salah invoked memories of Emad Meteb’s famous last-gasp header against Algeria in 2009 when he sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot after substitute Mahmoud Trezeguet was hauled down in the area.
After years of underachievement on the international level, Egypt were finally given something to cheer about after reaching next year’s Russia finals with one match to spare in Group E.
They remain on top of the group with 12 points, gaining an unassailable four-point lead over Uganda.
They face Ghana next month in a meaningless match in Kumasi.
The sell-out crowd in Alexandria remained glued to their seats following the final whistle, watching joyous scenes on the pitch as Salah was engulfed by ecstatic teammates.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles was the first team in Africa to qualify for the mundial in Russia next year.
The team defeated the Chipolopolo of Zambia on Saturday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State by a lone goal, courtesy of Alex Iwobi.