The Pharaohs of Egypt became the second African team to qualify for the Russia 2018 World Cup at the weekend thanks to goals by Liverpool FC club of England winger Mohamed Salah. He scored twice as the Pharaohs defeated Congo 2-1, thus securing victory with a last-gasp penalty to put Egypt four points clear with one match left in their African Group E qualifying campaign.
From all indications, it does appear that the African lads that are plying their trade in the highly rated English Premier League (EPL) now have the responsibility to ensure that African teams get to the World Cup, which kicks off in June next year. It was Arsenal FC’s Alex Iwobi who made sure Nigeria booked their ticket to Russia on Saturday with a 75th minute strike that left the Chipolopolo of Zambia devastated and their dream to make the first appearance at the World Cup dead.
The Salah-inspired win clinched Egypt a long-awaited spot in Russia for the 2018 World Cup finals, where the Arab world’s most populous country will compete on football’s ultimate stage for the first time since Italy in 1990. ‘It’s been 28 years and we’re finally going to enter the World Cup. Today is a day of celebration for the entire country,’ 41-year-old Gaber Fathy told Mail. The raucous mood spilling out on the streets marked a respite for Egyptians after years of hardship, from IMF-backed austerity reforms that have pushed inflation to record highs to a tough law on protests that has made public gatherings exceedingly rare after two presidents were toppled since a 2011 uprising.
Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi congratulated the Egyptian people after the match as tireless fans draped in flags turned the streets into an impromptu parade of red, white and black. Just across the border in neighbouring Gaza, where Egypt has led a political reconciliation process, thousands of Palestinians poured into an open-air park to cheer on the second Arab country to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after Saudi Arabia. With the win, Nigeria and Egypt would wait for the final weekend of African qualifiers in November to know the three other countries that would join the Russian party come 2018.