Egypt sent into raptures as country qualifies for first World Cup since 1990

    He made his international debut over two decades ago. Egypt's Essam El-Hadary can finally celebrate qualifying for the FIFA World Cup.

    Story highlights

    • Egypt 2-1 Congo
    • Salah scores twice as Pharaohs secure place in Russia 2018
    • Egypt qualify for World Cup for first time since 1990

    (CNN)Egypt manager Héctor Cúper had already been taking medication for high blood pressure to deal with the stress before the game.

    Now, with just 60 seconds of added time remaining, star player Mohamed Salah stepped up to take the penalty that could make or break his country's World Cup dream.
      Time seemed to slow as Egypt's 27-year wait to reach football's showpiece event came down to a single left-footed strike.
        But Salah calmly dispatched the spot kick into the bottom-right corner and, at last, Cúper could relax -- the Pharaohs had qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the first time since Italia '90, topping Group E ahead of Uganda, Ghana and Congo with a game to spare.
        Overcome by emotion, stadium announcer Inas Mazhar remained silent after Salah's goal.
        "Tears were rolling from the eyes of everyone; the players, the staff on the bench, the security officers," Mazhar tells CNN.
          "This means so much for Egypt. We are making history."
          "This is an incredible achievement," says author James Montague, who has traveled the globe documenting football's intersection with politics.
          "Egypt haven't gone to a World Cup since 1990 and it has been a source of national shame that the Pharaohs had not qualified despite being arguably being the best team in Africa over much of the past decade."
          Qualifying for the World Cup is a significant achievement for a country whose national team suffered when the 2011-12 and 2012-13 domestic seasons were canceled following the Port Said stadium disaster and the 2013 coup d'etat.
          Indeed, Egypt were competing at this year's African Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the first time since 2011's Arab Spring swept across the Middle East and North Africa.
          Montague added: "As the country struggled with the revolution's aftermath, we had the Port Said tragedy, the league was canceled, fans were banned from national team games. It was almost as if they would never make it. And then Mohammed Salah stepped up ..."

          Why age is just a number

          Pictured from left to right: Gábor Király, Faryd Mondragon and Essam El-Hadary -- the oldest to play in the Euros, World Cup and AFCON respectively.