CAIRO: Egypt coach Hassan Shehata said he was grateful to the fans after the team kept alive their World Cup hopes with a precious 2-0 home victory over Algeria on Saturday.
Amr Zaki opened the scoring after two minutes and substitute Emad Meteb headed home deep into stoppage time to give Egypt a remarkable win.
The Pharaohs did so in front of a sell-out crowd at the 74,100-seat Cairo Stadium to set up a playoff meeting with Algeria in Sudan on Wednesday.
The home fans, who prayed for a second goal over and over, were kept on their toes throughout the game to cheer up a side needing to end their World Cup jinx, having last reached the tournament in 1990.
Those fans played a key role in our victory tonight, Shehata, who is considered one of the best managers in Egypt s history after guiding them to back-to-back Nations Cup titles in 2006 and 2008, said after the game.
They always support us, they always pray for us. They do everything they can for the country s sake.
Egypt piled on pressure later in the game, knowing that a 1-0 victory would hand Algeria a place in next year s South Africa finals due to better goal difference.
Algeria s resolute defense made it hard for the six-time African champions to find a way through.
Meteb came to their rescue when he rose unmarked to head home a pinpoint cross from left-back Sayed Moawad and send the fans into raptures.
The last five minutes were heartbreaking but we were rewarded because we produced an outstanding display in the second half, Shehata added.