As Mohamed Salah brooded over the ball on 12 yards with minutes ticking down against Congo in Alexandria on Sunday, the eyes and hopes of 100million Egyptians were tied to the feet of this tiny figure.
Such a moment was enough to leave a lesser man overwhelmed. But Salah took it coolly and scored to send his country to their first Fifa World Cup in 28 years.
The celebrations have been unending.
Egypt, Africa’s third most populated country, was the first to participate in the Fifa World Cup in 1934. Its second appearance came in 1990 in Italy before last weekend’s success.
In the intervening period, Egypt had established itself as the most successful team on the continent with seven victories at the Africa Cup of Nations.
But the 2011 Arab Spring, political upheavals in the region, led to the crash of the economy that was supported by tourism and crude oil export. Three changes in government since but Egypt is still trying to find its feet.
Reuters reported in July that many Egyptian businesses are struggling, with several cutting down on operating costs by running half day services as customers continue to spend less as the value of the Pound has fallen amidst rising inflation.
There was an uproar among many Egyptians when President Abdel Fattah El Sisi was rumoured to have announced bonuses for the Pharaohs at a reception to honour them for qualifying for the World Cup. The president of the Egyptian FA Hany Abo Rida countered the argument that the money would be taken out of the funds they will receive from Fifa to prepare the team.
Egypt, a football-mad country, had its 86,000 Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria filled to capacity against Congo. Top clubs Al Ahli and Zamalek are the most successful on the continent. Their following on social media is also the largest.
Money will not be an issue for Egypt going to the World Cup in Russia. Despite the slow economy, companies are expected to splash the cash as the tournament nears.
Advertising budgets should pick up as corporations get in the World Cup mood. The inflation would not stop this country that loves football and its national team.
Nigeria add new sponsors ahead of World Cup
Hours before defeating Zambia to qualify for its sixth World Cup, the Nigeria Football Federation announced deals to bring on board two new sponsors for the national teams.
Tropical General Investments (TGI) Group became the official food sponsor of the Super Eagles while PayPorte became the official online store partner of the NFF, according to statements issued by the federation.
The cost of both deals was not revealed but it would last for three years subject to renewal.
TGI now sponsors the man of the match award at Super Eagles games, the first of which was won by fullback Abdullahi Shehu in the victory against Zambia.
With Nigeria’s qualification for the 2018 World Cup, many more brands are expected to come on board in order to take advantage of the Super Eagles playing on the biggest stage.
The NFF already has deals with AITEO and Zenith Bank.
Morocco set to win CHAN 2018 bid
Morocco should pick up the rights to host the 2018 African Nations Championship this weekend at an Emergency Committee meeting of Caf in Lagos.
Kenya were stripped of the rights to stage the event after failing to meet deadlines for the delivery of facilities for the event that will take place in January.
Morocco look set to profit from that failure ahead of competing bids from Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea.
Ethiopian Football Federation president Juneidi Basha told Goal he would not be attending the meeting in Lagos this weekend.
Moroccan FA president Fouzi Lekjaa is the third vice president of Caf.