The Elephants, as the Ivory Coast are known, will make their debut on football's biggest stage in Germany this summer, much to Cameroon's annoyance, and by winning here, after a seemingly endless penalty shoot-out, Didier Drogba and his team-mates showed their prize is not entirely undeserved.
In the minds of Samuel Eto'o and Co, Cameroon are the superior side, and it will indeed be a poorer World Cup without the Barcelona striker, who had scored five goals in the tournament before this game at Cairo's Military Stadium. Victory here for the Ivorians means another derby for them. On Tuesday they will face Nigeria, winners earlier in the day in Port Said against Tunisia after another penalty shoot-out, in the last four.
In an extraordinary penalty session here Eto'o, of all people, missed his side's 12th effort - everyone on both sides, goalkeepers included, having already taken one and scored. He chipped his effort over the crossbar Drogba, Chelsea's £24m striker, then converted his second effort to seal the victory.
The Ivorians may take this method of winning as a lucky omen, as they won their last Nations Cup in 1992 after almost as much of a marathon. That time it finished 11-10 on penalties against Ghana.
There was deadlock after two hours, and a match that had promised so much excitement was in the doldrums for almost all of that time. Perhaps both sides had finally adjusted to their time in the capital, for it is a city that is slow to wake up but then cannot contain itself until late into the night.
A minute into extra-time Emmanuel Eboué, Arsenal's reserve right-back but first-choice for the Ivorians, unleashed from 35 yards possibly the fiercest shot of his career. It cannoned off the crossbar and from the rebound the substitute Bakari Koné tucked his shot home.
Cameroon's reply was swift. Geremi hit the crossbar from 20 yards but before they had a chance to dwell on their misfortune, the four times Nations Cup winners had their equaliser. Daniel Kome miscontrolled a high ball but it ran kindly for his team-mate Albert Meyong Ze, also a substitute, and he had the simplest of tasks to score.
What turned out to be, for three minutes at least, a tale of two subs had been hyped as a duel between Eto'o and Drogba, two of Africa's finest forwards. They missed a chance each in the first half. Drogba had the first opportunity from eight yards out and soon after that Eto'o had just as good a chance, which was again wasted. Without a World Cup to look forward to, his mistakes will haunt him longer.
1-0 Samuel Eto'o puts Cameroon ahead
1-1 Didier Drogba levels
2-1 Njitap Gérémi scores
2-2 Kolo Touré levels
3-2 Thimothée Atouba scores
3-3 Bakari Koné levels
4-3 Daniel Ngom Kome scores
4-4 Emerse Fae sends the goalkeeper the wrong way
5-4 Albert Ze Meyong scores
5-5 Arouna Kone keeps Ivory Coast in the tie
6-5 Jean Makoun just scores
6-6 Blaise Kossi Kouassi levels
7-6 Rigobert Song hits top corner
7-7 Christian Koffi Ndri levels
8-7 Alioum Saidou's shot saved but scores with re-take
8-8 Arthur Boka scores
9-8 Rudolph Douala scores
9-9 Didier Zokora levels
10-9 Stéphane Bikey scores
10-10 Marco Zoro scores
11-10 Cameroon goalkeeper Souleymanou Hamidou scores
11-11 Ivory Coast goalkeeper Jean-Jacques Tizie levels
11-11 Start again. Eto'o fires over
11-12 Drogba wins it for Ivory CoastReuse content