Pienaar passed fit to play in Egypt clash

2011-03-25 00:00

SOUTH Africa can breathe a sigh of relief with the news that midfield kingpin Steven Pienaar has been passed fit for tomorrow’s 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Egypt at Ellis Park.

Pienaar arrived in the country nursing a two-week groin injury, but Tottenham Hotspur’s January signing from Everton has been pronounced fit to face the Pharaohs tomorrow.

Pienaar was involved in the national team’s full training session in Rustenburg yesterday, where Bafana have been on an extended training camp in their build-up to the qualifier, and jogged some more on his own afterwards.

The midfielder, who will captain the national team in the absence of dropped Aaron Mokoena, told a press conference he is ready to lead Bafana for the first time.

“Of course it will be my first time captaining the team in an official game, but I think it will be the same as the last game [a 1-0 friendly win against Kenya],” Pienaar said.

“I have been around the team a few years now and I will be myself. We will go into the game 100% focused and we are aware it is a must that we get all the three points.

“After the World Cup this is our biggest game. So for us it is important that the three points stay in South Africa. For Egypt it is make or break,” said the new skipper.

“We must just make sure we don’t lose or draw. As a player you want to win every game and being the captain of the team I don’t want to lose.”

Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane said he does not believe Egypt are in as poor form as their disastrous start to the qualifiers suggests.

The Pharaohs, subsequently destabilised further by the revolution against ousted president Hosni Mubarak, have gained just one point from a home draw against Sierra Leone and away defeat to Niger. South Africa top Group G with four points.

“Egypt were not bad against Sierra Leone. They did everything they could and the Sierra Leone goalkeeper was just unbelievable,” Mosimane said.

“Egypt hit the post twice, so in my opinion they were not bad. Against Niger they were not bad either because the Niger goalkeeper was under stress.

“Egypt controlled the match in Niger and Niger scored through a counter-attack. Sometimes you play good and you lose, that’s what happened to Egypt, and sometimes you play bad and win.”

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