Egypt picked the second African ticket, after Nigeria, to the Russian FIFA World Cup, on Sunday after grinding out a 2-1 win over stubborn Congo in Alexandria.
The Congolese nearly ruined Egypt’s World Cup hopes, after Boukah Moulou cancelled Mohammed Salah’s 64th minute goal in the 87th minute.
But undaunted Pharaohs piled on the pressure against the visitors. Thanks to Salah again who found the net deep in stoppage time via a penalty kick, to give Egypt a memorable,hard fought victory over bottom-placed Congo.
Egypt, though a powerful force in African soccer, have been missing in World Cup tournaments since 1990.
They are now top of Group E with 12 points, while their closest rivals, Uganda have eight points after being held at home to a goalless draw by Ghana in Kampala on Saturday.
With the Egyptians now having an unassailable four-point lead, their last match away in Ghana is just of academic interest only. And Russia is now a certainty, after 28 years of absence.
Egypt’s 44-year-old goalkeeper Essam El Hadary led the celebrations at full-time as the North Africans, seven-time continental champions and 2016 CAF Africa Cup of Nations runners-up booked only their third passage to the finals.
Russia will only be their second destination for a World Cup, having made their debut at Italy’s first hosting back in 1934, fifa.com reported.
Winners of the three remaining tickets will be known between 10-14 November.