Nigeria, Egypt lead Africa to Russia


Africa’s qualifiers for the World Cup in Russia in 2018 have finally begun to emerge. Nigeria’s national team, the Super Eagles, are the first African country to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria

The Super Eagles defeated Zambia’s Chipolopolo in Uyo to secure their qualification. The match was tense as Nigeria needed to restore its footballing image and convince the citizens that the nation was truly a footballing giant. The moment of respite came as Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi scored the only goal of the match.

He came on in the 65th minuted before converting a pass through a crowded penalty area. The win put Nigeria on 13 points with the second place Zambia having 7 points. The last fixture for the group on November 6 will be a mere formality for Rohr’s side.

The Pharaohs of Egypt

Mikel Obi and the team have now joined hosts Russia along with other teams including: Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Belgium, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, Germany, England, Spain and Costa Rica.

By this feat, Nigeria has qualified for six out of the last seven World Cups, they only missed out during Germany 2006. They reached the second round on three occasions – 1994, 1998 and 2014.

The government has hailed the team’s efforts with President Muhammadu Buhari labeling the qualification as a belated 57th independence day gift.

The ecstacy in Cairo was boundless as Egypt’s capital crackled with fireworks and horns blared with the soccer-crazy country reaching the World Cup stage for the first time in 28 years as rare scenes of joy took hold of city blocks celebrating a 2-1 victory over Congo.

Maverick winger, Mohamed Salah scored twice, securing victory with a last-gasp penalty to put Egypt four points clear with one match left in their African group E qualifying campaign.

The win earned 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.

An enthusiastic Egyptian quipped ‘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.’

“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,” said 41-year-old Gaber Fathy.

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.

“You can look around and see how people are happy. This is something you never witness in Egypt,” said 23-year-old Gamal Mohamed in downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the iconic centre of the country’s once-active protest movement, which has since been quashed by tough security measures.

Egypt’s 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.

The Egyptian national team have qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, their first since 1990. For that feat, the Pharaohs have been handed a presidential bonus of $85,000 each.

The team beat Congo Brazzaville by 2 – 1 last Sunday to seal the qualification. They paid a visit to president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi on Monday during which event the bonus was announced.

The president whiles praising the team for its collective efforts singled out Liverpool winger, Mohamed Salah for praise. Salah scored both goals in the game that seal the qualification.

I am proud of all the players but especially of Mo Salah who was brave enough to take the crucial penalty.

His first goal was canceled out by the Congolese before he stepped up and converted a last minute spot kick. “I am proud of all the players but especially of Mo Salah who was brave enough to take the crucial penalty,” the president said.

Egypt were drawn in the same qualifying group as Congo, Ghana and Uganda. There is a last round of games to be played in November but their point buildup means their meeting with Ghana will not influence the result in any way.

Egypt became the second African team, after Nigeria, to qualify for next year’s football showpiece. Africa has three other slots yet to be filled.

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