Egypt celebrates defeat of world champions
Egypt coach Hassan Shehata knew that FIFA Confederations Cup duty would prevent him celebrating his 62nd birthday with friends and family back in Cairo, but he got the perfect birthday present last night with his side's 1-0 win over world champions Italy in South Africa.
Barely minutes after Swedish referee Martin Hansson blew to signal the Pharaohs' historic win over the world champions, masses of jubilant Egyptians poured onto the streets of towns and cities across the country to celebrate.
National flags were everywhere as drivers blew their horns and people danced and chanted to mark the victory, the first ever by any African side over Italy. The streets of Cairo at midnight yesterday were like rush hour, with traffic police resigning themselves to the bedlam and joining in the festivities.
FIFA.com brings you some of the reaction from the streets of the Egyptian capital.
"It's a historic day for Egyptian football," said Alaa Mosailhi, a civil engineer. "Hassan Shehata and his charges entertained the world of football tonight after having almost beaten Brazil earlier [in the competition]."
Mohamed Abdallah, for his part, called for the red-hot Pharaohs to continue their determined performances and go all the way to the final. "We were close to taking down the Seleção," said Abdallah, "but we made no mistake against the Azzurri. Our victory today showed the whole world that we deserve to be respected as a powerful footballing nation and to be considered among the top teams."
Amina Kasm, meanwhile, congratulated the team and sent a special salute to goalkeeper Essam El Hadary. "He was back to his impressive best tonight," she said. "El Hadary was the star man in this match and the pillar on which this marvellous result was built."
Hugely popular Egyptian comedian Ahmed Badir also gave his reaction to FIFA.com, saying he had expected Shehata's charges to win this their second match at the FIFA Confederation Cup. "After Brazil narrowly avoided an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Pharaohs, there was no question but that the team would beat Italy."
Egypt's 1-0 win over the world champions in their second Group B game in Johannesburg came courtesy of a goal from Mohamed Soliman 'Homos', the veteran Ismaily midfielder. Celebrations were particularly passionate at his club's home city of Ismailia, where pride in the local hero was immense.
As street parties erupted spread in cities across the country, ART, the Arab Radio and Television Network that sponsors the Arabic version of the FIFA.com, broadcasted live coverage of the celebrations, with joyous members of the public singing, dancing and savouring the historic triumph.
Perhaps the public sentiment was best summed up by the text message sent to Hassan Shehata's charges by Mohamed Sherif Abd El-A'lim, which stated: "You impressed us and the watching world tonight. Now you have to go on and beat the USA in your final group game. Please don't bring an end to the ecstatic happiness we're feeling. We're all proud of you."