The World Cup qualifications rounds are coming to an end across the globe, Africa isn’t no exception. While several big countries have been eliminated already – this isn’t the case for Egypt. After seventeen years without a World Cup, they’ve qualified themselves for the tournament after defeating Congo last Sunday. With one game left in the group stage, Egypt has obtained twelve points, while the runner-up, Uganda has eight points. Which means that Egypt can’t be surpassed anymore. This all happened despite beginning their qualification adventure quite poorly.
Starting in the second round, Egypt faced Chad, who eliminated Sierra Leone in the round before. The Egyptians had to visit Chad first and were flabbergasted after 90 minutes, Chad managed to scrap a 1-0 win together. Against all odds, because a Egypt win would give you 1.30 for every euro you put on them, while a three pointer for Chad would give you €8.90. Thankfully for the Egyptians, their meeting with Chad on their own turf was convincingly won with 4-0. Meaning that Egypt proceeded to the last round before Russia, which was a group stage.
“El-Fara’ena” are 30th on the rankings while their opponents in that group, Ghana (52), Uganda (71) and Congo (95) were all below them on official FIFA rankings. Crowning the Egyptians top favourites to proceed to the World Cup of 2018. A role which apparently suited them and was correct, because of all the twenty Africans teams left, only Tunisia and Nigeria (both 13) have obtained more points than Egypt (12).
Only dropping points at Uganda means that the 17-year long drought has ended and that Egypt will be a present in Russia during the World Cup of 2018. And thanks to who? I wouldn’t say singlehandedly, but the influence of Mohamed Salah has been enormous. The Liverpool winger scored five times in the group stages, making him the top scorer of all the African teams. He proved his worth once again versus Congo last night by scoring a brace in a 2-1 victory over them. One of those goals came from the penalty spot in the dying seconds of the game. Being this important at such a crucial stage makes the difference between a good and a great player.
Salah will be accompanied by his fellow Egyptians in Russia, one of them being Essam El Hadary. The goalkeeper is 44-years old (!) and if he were to play in the WC2018, he would become the oldest player ever on a World Cup.
The scenes last night when Salah scored the winner and therefore granting them a WC-ticket were truly heart-warming. Making them the second African side to qualify after Nigeria. Both will be accompanied by three other African sides in Russia. Tunisia/Congo DR from Group A, Morocco/Cote D’Ivoire from Group C and Senegal/Burkina Faso/Cape Verde Islands/South Africa from Group D.