DURBAN – What Bafana Bafana achieved at Cairo International Stadium on Saturday was nothing short of extraordinary.
They defied the odds and dethroned the mighty Egyptians in front of a packed stadium in a pulsating Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Last 16 encounter. Not many nations have dispatched Egypt in their territory. For many visiting teams in Egypt, Cairo is regarded as a slaughter-house.
The crowds there are passionate and hostile but Bafana achieved “the impossible”, sticking to their plan despite the deafening noise. It was a well-structured performance. One of the best displays in the past decade for the South Africans.
No-one gave Bafana a chance but they suddenly developed “balls of steel” not seen in recent years. They were resilient and determined to push the six-time continental champions all the way. It is that determination that was missing during the group stages and will be once again required tonight against Nigeria.
The selection of Thembinkosi Lorch gave South Africa a different dimension and rhythm upfront. The Premier Soccer League Footballer of the Season was outstanding on the night. He ran his socks off and gave Bafana more speed in the final third. Bafana were suddenly threatening when going forward as Lorch combined well with Percy Tau and Lebohang Mothiba.