Impossible not to get chills watching Mohamed Salah's game-winning penalty that sent Egypt to the 2018 World Cup. pic.twitter.com/5CtGmXOuPh— Photos of Football (@photosofootball) October 8, 2017
In what was a long-awaited victory for Egypt's national soccer team, the Pharaohs secured a spot in the World Cup for the first time in 27 years.
Not only was the win long-awaited, it also brought much-needed relief for the people of Egypt, who have been experiencing violent political instability for almost a decade.
Emotions ran high and celebrations erupted across Egypt as the Pharaohs scored a 2-1 win over Congo.
This is Cairo tonight after Egypt qualifying to World Cup after 28 years pic.twitter.com/G6gqep8NT8— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) October 8, 2017
“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,” a 41-year-old soccer fan, Gaber Fathy, told Reuters.
The Pharaohs are seven-time champions of their continental tournaments and won four times since last reaching the World Cup finals since 1990.
The much-deserved reason to celebrate came against a backdrop of Egypt's widest anti-gay crackdown yet.
At least 57 people were reportedly arrested last week after a rainbow flag was waved at a rock concert in Cairo.
In the past years, Egypt, a key U.S. ally, has come under fire over its abysmal human rights record, which includes extrajudicial killings, mass detentions, torture, and mysterious disappearances of journalists, aid workers, activists, students and scholars.
In fact, the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el Sisi, is credited with the horrific August 2013 Rabaa massacre, where Egyptian security forces killed more than 800 protesters in a single day.
Amidst such hostile political unrest, the Pharaohs' soccer triumph lit up Egyptian streets with jubilation the country had not seen in years.