Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter admits that his side would have to be at their best throughout the game against Egypt to achieve their goal of causing an upset on Saturday.
The South African national team will take the Egyptians in the Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 clash at the Cairo International Stadium with kick off set for 9pm.
South Africa were on the brink of a group-stage exit following the 1-0 defeat by Morocco in their final Group D clash, but managed to progress to the knockout round of the tournament after finishing as the fourth-best third-placed team.
Speaking to the media ahead of their last 16 clash against Egypt, Baxter said that Bafana would have to try and match the Pharaohs in every aspect of the game if they are to stand a chance of booking their place in the quarter-final of the tournament.
‘Playing against the home nation is inspiring and knowing the Egyptian people, knowing their passion for football, knowing their expectations are very high, knowing they have some great players, I believe the pressure is going to be on them. It will obviously be a national disaster if South Africa beat them and for us it will be very disappointing if we lose the game,’ Baxter told the media.
‘So we will go into the game quietly believing we can cause an upset but knowing we have to play very, very well because this is a good Egyptian team and they will have massive support and one of the jobs we have to do is to try to quietly quieten the crowd by being a tough opponent than what the people think.’
The 65-year-old coach insists that they wont approach their game against the Egyptians with caution but give it their all in the hope of qualifying for the next round.
Baxter also added that midfielder Dean Furman will continued to be assessed by the medical staff before any decision is made on whether he’ll play or not.
‘This will be a great challenge and an inspiring challenge to be meeting Egypt. I think it is our job because the crowd will start with enthusiasm and it is our job to bring maybe some frustration into the mix and if we can do that and the crowd become a little bit impatient, the players will feel that on the field. We know that the home nation can be a good thing and that can also bring big pressure if they feel they are not pleasing that massive crowd.
‘So that will be part of our job. We will play with no sense of we must, we will play with a lot of sense of we want. So if we can do that, I think it will be an interesting game.
‘We will definitely give it a good shout on Saturday.
‘Dean Furman trained yesterday and he trained quite well. We took him out towards the end of the training as precautionary and we are waiting to see the reaction to that training today. The medical team will tell me the way forward.’
Baxter went on to say that losing Themba Zwane through suspension is a huge blow for Bafana but insists that it gives Lebogang Maboe and Thembinkosi Lorch a chance to set up in his absence.
‘To lose Themba, Themba has been playing very well for us and is very important part of the team that link sometimes in our transition, he does that very well.
‘He is very creative in the last third and if you lose a good player like Themba, it is a blow but it also opens doors for other players like Maboe (Lebogang) and Lorch. They all want to put up their hands and get a chance,’ he concluded.
You may also like