Egypt's Mohamed Salah smiles next to his teammates. (Photo: Reuters)
Sunday 8 October 2017 is all about football in Egypt as people in the North African country are gearing up to celebrate a possible end to the national team’s 28-year absence from the World Cup.
Thousands of fans hit the road from all around the country to gather at Borg El-Arab Stadium in Alexandria to watch their national team make history if they defeat Congo in the match, which starts at 19:00 Cairo time (GMT +2).
The 86,000-seat arena in the coastal city is expected to see an overflow of spectators, with security forces prepped for the big event, which may be attended by the country’s president.
Egypt's fan waves national flag during a training session. (Photo: Reuters)
Fans are expected to hit the streets and large squares in most of the country's governorates, with large screens set up in public areas to broadcast the match.
The match will be aired on the free Egyptian satellite channel ONSport, which bought the right to broadcast, with dozens of advertisers and sponsors scuffling for the match’s ad slots.
While moving along Egypt’s major streets and bridges, it is hard to miss the wide billboards by local and international brands urging Egyptians to support their national team, even using slogans that refer to Egyptian superstitions to encourage people to watch.
Egypt's head coach Hector Cuper looks on during the training session. (Photo: Reuters)
All major Egyptian newspapers have put headlines about the anticipated game on the front page, with coffee shop patrons and those on public transport chatting about the game.
The match is also top trending on social media.
Facebook added a “support Egypt” frame for profile photos, while twitter and Instagram are populated with Egyptian hashtags about the game.
Hundreds of comics and memes about the game are posted on many popular Facebook pages, with users posting photos with flags and statements voicing their hopes of ending decades of absence from the World Cup.
Egypt's goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary takes part in a training session. (Photo: Reuters)
The mission is not that hard for Hector Cuper’s men, especially after Ghana and Uganda reached a draw on Saturday. The Pharaohs, already topping group E of the African qualifiers, need to win against humble Congo to secure a precious qualifying ticket.
Even a loss is still affordable, as the 9-point leaders will have a final test away in Akra against Ghana next month in a match that will not be easy at all.
Read the full match preview here and follow the live coverage here
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