Mohamed Salah scored twice to lead Egypt to a 2-1 win over Congo on Sunday, ensuring their return to the World Cup for the first time since 1990.
Egypt 2-1 Congo
World Cup Qualifier, Borg El Arab Stadium
October 8, 2017
Goals: Salah 63′, 90+5+ (pen); Bouka Moutou 87′
Hector Cuper’s side needed a victory at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria to guarantee qualification from Group E of the CAF qualifiers.
The 61-year-old former Argentina international named a familiar starting lineup, with Salah joined by West Brom‘s Ahmed Hegazi, Arsenal‘s Mohamed Elneny and Stoke City‘s Ramadan Sobhi.
With 80,000 watching on, a tense clash played out, with Congo holding Egypt to half-time, anxiety built.
It was Salah who broke the deadlock on 63 minutes, though, benefiting from a poor headed clearance to race through on goal and poke past Lille goalkeeper Barel Mouko and make it 1-0.
The 25-year-old was busy throughout, firing six shots on goal, with four hitting the target, and creating two chances for his team-mates.
With his opener looking set to book Egypt’s place in Russia, however, Congo struck late through Arnold Bouka Moutou, setting up a nervous finale.
And it went down to the wire, with Salah called to take a last-minute penalty, after five minutes of stoppage time, and the winger showed his composure to slot home and secure the victory.
“That was to me a dream come true, whether as a footballer or an Egyptian citizen and fan,” he said after the game. “I’m proud I made the Egyptians happy today.”
Salah is currently the top scorer in the CAF qualifiers, with five goals, having scored in all but one of Egypt’s games.
Egypt’s last appearance at the World Cup came in 1990, when they were drawn against England, the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands in Group F in Italy.
They took just two points from their three games, finishing bottom of the group, with a 1-0 loss to the Three Lions consigning them to failure.
Next summer, they will be hoping for better, with Salah their talisman in attack.