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Egyptians Ecstatic after Africa Cup Victory

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians staged a noisy celebration across the country following their soccer team's one-zero victory over Cameroon in the African Cup of Nations finals. Aya Batrawy has more for VOA from Cairo.

The Pharaohs won the African Cup finals for a record sixth time. The defending champions, who played Cameroon in Ghana Sunday evening, had control over the ball most of the game, beating out the Indomitable Lions with the only goal of the match 61 minutes into the game.

The bustling streets of Cairo were nearly empty as people sat glued to their television sets at home and at cafes, rooting for their national team.

But the silence changed to excitement and noisy celebration after Egypt scored the winning goal. Crowds in cafes around the country were cheering Masr, Masr… Arabic for Egypt, Egypt.

"Masr, Masr."

To this woman, who gives her name as Eman, the victory gives Egyptians something to cheer about at a time of economic hardship.

"People are mostly depressed nowadays so anything that can draw a smile on their face is excellent," Eman said.

Soccer fan Hany Hassan the win is not just about a soccer game, but about going into the streets and letting loose in a country where opposition political rallies and demonstrations are quickly dispersed by Egyptian state security. Hassan said this is one of the few times when Egyptian security does not stop people from taking to the streets.

"All the Egyptian society, they wouldn't dare to have a political revolution but they would definitely have a soccer revolution," Hassan said. "Nobody can stop them from having fun or going across any red lines on the streets. It's the best time ever."

He says soccer in Egypt is a sport enjoyed by the rich and poor alike and a victory helps unite the country more than anything else.

"It is like a country's spirit where everyone enjoys it and it's the only time when everyone is partying on the streets together," Hassan said. "They don't care who, where or when."

The streets were filled with cars honking their horns and youth dressed from head to toe in Egypt's national red, white and black colors.

Porter Mohamed Mahmoud said at times like these Egyptians have not only a strong sense Arab and Muslim heritage, but also of being part of Africa.

He says, "We are an Arab country, but also an African country. Of course we are part of Africa, said Mahmoud."

To the hundreds of thousands of people in the streets across the country, the victorious Pharaos put Egypt on the world map and made the country proud.