Egypt hasn’t qualified for the world’s greatest sporting event since 1990. Egyptians have been dreaming of this for almost three decades now. Years of disappointment and defeat have kept our country away from the FIFA World Cup. Today we find ourselves on the edge, a win, and we could be set on the right course for our first World Cup appearance this century, a loss and we could kiss our hopes of Russia 2018 goodbye. Today, Egypt faced Uganda for the top spot in the qualifying group.
Here are 8 conclusions about what this football match means for Egypt, both on and off the pitch.
- Despite the many differences and divides in this country, football is the one thing that brings us all together and unites us on the same front. We want the same winning outcome, we cheer together in unison, and we celebrate our team’s victories on the streets of Egypt till the sun goes down. Today’s match has again succeeded in bringing this country together once again.
- Even if you don’t care about football, this occasion still works out pretty well for you, the streets clear out for at least a good three hours as everybody is watching the game either at home or at the cafes. This means if you have any errands you need to run, this is the best time to get them done thanks to the game. Even if you don’t have any errands, but you do love a nice stress-free cruise, you could still go for a nice ride along the now empty 6th of October Bridge.
- It has been a long time since we’ve seen stadiums in Egypt filled with fans, but today was a beautiful reminder of just what a special atmosphere these supporters bring to the stadium. Thousands of Egyptians flocked their way to the stadium a full five hours before the match started today. 60,000 fans were allowed into the Borg Al Arab Stadium today and they sure did bring the noise. They brought the famous red, white, and black flags as well, and the flags soared throughout the stadium.
- Following the recent 1-0 defeat to Uganda, Uganda surpassed Egypt in the World Cup qualification group. The pressure increased even further as Ghana beat Congo 5-1 earlier today, bringing Ghana just a single point behind Egypt in the group. These results left Egypt needing nothing less than a win today, or they could just as well kiss their Russia 2018 hopes goodbye.
- Hector Cuper came under strong criticism after last week’s game against Uganda. Egypt was lacking mainly in the attacking third of the pitch, failing to build any type of cohesive attacking play. Several players underperformed as well, and you can bet that meant some changes to the starting line-up today. Amr Gamal was brought in for Kahraba and Ramadan Sobhy for Trezeguet.
- Salah cannot do it all on his own, however, and thankfully he doesn’t have to. This young Egyptian team has several other outstanding performers to support their star man. Abdallah El Said, Ramadan Sobhy, and Abdelshafy were all involved in the build-up for the first goal. Abdallah himself managed to provide the assist for Salah’s first goal today.
- The star of this team is Mohamed Salah and today he showed just how crucial he is towards Egypt’s collective performance. Hopes and aspirations for Russia 2018 depend on this man, and today he proved just how worthy he is of his status as the Golden Boy of Egypt. The new Liverpool signing timed his run perfectly for the opening goal. Uganda goalkeeper Onyango managed to save his first shot, but Salah left him no chance with the rebound, smashing it into the back of the net. Salah has now scored 13 goals in his last 17 games for Egypt.
- The goal came at an excellent time for Egypt, making sure Uganda couldn’t sit back in defense for the entire game. The Egyptian defense maintained a tight-shut defense throughout the entire match. Egypt won 1-0 and now they sit triumphantly in first place on top of the rest of their group. You can expect the streets of Egypt to be filled with joyous faces these coming days. Thank god for these 3 points, give or take 3 more points in October and we’ll all be getting our luggage ready for Russia next summer. Till then.