Toughest test awaits Bafana

2010-10-17 12:42

While Bafana Bafana are still enjoying their hard-earned point from ­Freetown, they need not get carried away by the euphoria.

If getting a draw away in Freetown against Sierra Leone was a tough assignment, then Bafana have to brace themselves for an even more daunting task against Egypt next year.

With the defending Africa Cup of Nations champions on the back foot and still reeling with shock after their 1-0 defeat by minnows Niger, the March encounter could be make or break for them.
 
The Pharaohs will require nothing less than victory to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the 2012 edition in ­Gabon/Equatorial Guinea.

But at least coach Pitso Mosimane is well aware of the Egyptian threats and has vowed not to take them lightly.

Fact is, Bafana have never beaten Egypt in any official game, having lost 1-0 in 1996 and 2-0 in 1998 – both in the Nations Cup.

Although Bafana have prevailed in friendly games in 1995, 1998 and 2006, next year’s game makes it even more ­interesting.

Even local teams have struggled to beat Egyptian giants Al Ahly and Zamalek on the numerous occasions they’ve met.

But Mosimane believes if Bafana can survive under the tough and demanding conditions in Freetown, they can withstand any team.

Bafana came back bruised and battered after their ordeal. Mosimane praises his team for showing character and mental strength but says the job is not done yet.

“We fought like soldiers. We showed we could play away from home and get results. This was a big point for us. We achieved our objective of returning still top of the group.”

Bafana now head Group G with four points from two matches, after lowly Niger stunned African champions Egypt 1-0 at home putting the Pharaohs in trouble at the bottom of the group with a single point.

“We have our fate in our hands. We have back-to-back matches against Egypt and the bottom line is we have to win our home matches. That is not negotiable, but the way we fought in Freetown shows we have the mental strength to go all the way and make it to the Afcon finals.”

Bafana are yet to concede a goal in three matches under Mosimane’s tutelage.

They beat Ghana 1-0 and ­Niger 2-0 while playing a goalless draw against Sierra Leone.

Egypt coach Hassan Shehata is under tremendous pressure and may not even be around when the team comes to South Africa.

It seems Egypt had not recovered from their failure to qualify for the World Cup when they were beaten 1-0 by arch rivals Algeria.

Although they did redeem themselves by lifting their third consecutive Nations Cup in ­Angola in February, they have not been the same team since the Algeria defeat in Sudan last year.

What could work in Bafana’s favour is the fact that the match is at a time when South African players are at their peak as the Absa Premiership season will be at its climax, while the Egyptian league will have just kicked off in January.

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