Essam El Hadary of Egypt celebrates after winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match between Egypt and Congo at the Borg El-Arab Stadium in Alexandria, Egypt, Oct. 8, 2017. Egypt won 2-1 and qualified to the World Cup finals. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- After more than two decades of absence, the Egyptian national soccer team was qualified on Sunday for the World Cup finals to be held next year in Russia after beating Congolese national team with 2-1 in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria.
Egypt has become the second African country after Nigeria to secure its place in the FIFA World Cup finals in Russia, a long-awaited qualification that gets Egypt into the top world soccer competition for the third time after it joined it in 1990 and 1934.
Egyptian world-known striker Mohamed Salah, currently playing for Liverpool, was the man of the match as he scored Egypt's two goals in the 63rd and 93rd minutes of the match.
The Egyptian qualification ends the 2018 World Cup dream for its other three rivals in the fifth African group, namely Uganda, Ghana and Congo.
Played at a military stadium in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, the match was ups and downs for both sides, especially after Congolese striker Arnold Buoka Moutou scored an equaliser in the 88th minute.
However, a penalty kick scored by Salah in the injury time secured the Egyptian victory after 27 years of waiting, putting Egypt top of Group E in African qualifying with a game to spare.
Following the match, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi approved a reward of 1.5 million Egyptian pounds (about 85,000 U.S. dollars) for each player of the national team for the achievement, saying they showed an example of persistence, determination and hard work.
The House of Representatives in Egypt congratulated the Egyptian people on the national football team's qualifying to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The Egyptian cabinet led by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail also congratulated Sisi, the Egyptian people and the national team for the snatched victory.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, made Sunday a telephone call to Sisi, congratulating the president on the Egyptian football national team's qualification.
Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah also sent a cable to Sisi to congratulate him.