Football affects so many people in Egypt, says Arsenal’s Elneny

Issouf Sanogo
The 25-year-old discussed the significance of football on Egyptians after the Pharaohs secured their first World Cup appearance since 1990

Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny has highlighted the huge influence that football has on the economy and on every household in Egypt.

Hector Cuper’s men sealed their place in next year’s Fifa World Cup in Russia after a 2-1 victory over Congo on October 8. They ended their qualification campaign as Group E leaders with 13 points from six games.

However, Elneny disclosed that the Pharaohs learnt from their predecessors' mistakes to ensure they grab a ticket to the showpiece.

“In Egypt, football affects so many people. We are told all the time that relationship between the people and football affects the economy and overall mood. It affects every household, rich and poor,” Elneny told Arsenal's Youtube channel.

“When the national team wins, everyone is happy and productive when we lose the opposite happens.

“The generation before us won three African Cup of Nations in a row, played in the Confederations Cup and they achieved so many things but didn’t qualify for the World Cup. I think we learnt from that and our manager Mr Cuper looked into that too and managed to fix few things, this doesn’t mean the previous generation was doing it wrongly.

“We worked hard and the manager had a plan all the way. I don’t know what was missing in previous years. I played with the generation before us and I know how hard they worked. This generation reached the final of the African Cup of Nations and before that, we made it to the Olympics after 20 years absence. I am delighted to qualify and proud of all what we have achieved so far.”

The Arsenal midfielder relived his experience the day before Hector Cuper’s men sealed their World Cup place at the Borg El Arab Stadium.

“The night before Congo game I was dreaming all night. I was dreaming about the referee’s whistle and being in the World Cup. It was a dream to all Egyptians I think. When we were awarded the penalty everybody was so happy as if we already qualified," he said.

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“It was 50/50 and everyone was celebrating already and we haven’t scored it yet. When we scored and won the game I knew we made it and now we can celebrate. I felt something I have never experienced before. Pure happiness. After all the hard work we made the dream come true.”

Egypt have been drawn in pot 3 alongside Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal and Iran ahead of the World Cup draws which takes place in Russia on December 1.

Elneny is in line to make his sixth Premier League appearance this campaign when Arsenal welcome Tottenham Hotspur to the Emirates Stadium in Saturday's north London derby.