Indian envoy congratulates Egypt for qualifying for World Cup
(Eds: Updating with more inputs)
By Youssra El-Sharkawy
Cairo, Oct 9 (PTI) India's Ambassador to Egypt today congratulated the country after it beat Congo and qualified for the 2018 World Cup after a gap of 28 years, leading to celebrations across the football-crazy nation.
Egypt, the record seven-time African champions, has suffered several heart-breaking defeats since it last qualified for the World Cup in 1990.
"Congratulations #Egypt for qualifying #Russia2018WorldCup Bravo @IndianDiplomacy", Ambassador Sanjay Bhattacharyya tweeted after the country beat Congo 2-1.
Egyptians are football crazy and take the game incredibly seriously. The two main Cairo teams Ahly and Zamalek attract tremendous support across the country.
The euphoria in Egypt was intense after a 95th-minute goal from Mohamed Salah sent the country to the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia.
The dramatic winner in the last minute sparked wild scenes of celebration both on and off the pitch. While several players and fans took to the field to celebrate, supporters wept with joy in the packed stands of the Borg El Arab stadium in Alexandria.
People across Egypt marched on the streets, raising flags and chanting songs.
In the three decades since their last World Cup appearance, Egypt has suffered repeated heart-breaks with one of the most painful defeats coming in 2009 when it lost a bitterly-contested play-off against Algeria.
The desperation to qualify ahead of the game was so great that Egypt's Argentinian coach Hector Cuper admitted he was taking medication for high blood pressure.
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will host the national team players and technical staff members today after their win, the presidency said in a statement.
The president expressed "his happiness over the Egyptian national team's achievement, thanking the players and technical staff for their great efforts during the World Cup qualifiers," local media reported, quoting the presidency statement.
"I would like to pay tribute to the national team for their heroic performance and their qualification for the World Cup," Sisi tweeted