JOHANNESBURG – Switch off from the crowd, keep a tight rein on the opposition on the flanks and pick playing personnel best suited for the clash.
That, in a nutshell, is what Pitso Mosimane believes would be key to Bafana Bafana getting the better of hosts and title favourites Egypt in their Africa Cup of Nations last 16 clash in Cairo tomorrow night.
Mosimane does acknowledge that Stuart Baxter is an astute coach who will definitely have a good plan in place to ensure that South Africa register their first win over the Pharaohs at the Afcon finals.
The Mamelodi Sundowns coach also believes that Baxter and his technical team will no doubt have spent time going over the footage of Egypt’s three matches to have picked up a few things that will help them take on Africa’s most successful national team at the biennial continental showpiece.
Mosimane was in Egypt as a television analyst and having watched the Pharaohs, he picked up that the host nation hardly change their approach and are thus not too hard to plan against.
“Egypt are very strong on both flanks. On the left they have Ashraf (Mohamed Mansour) and Trezeguet, who is right-footed and thus cuts inside and does so very aggressively. Ashraf is a left centre-back for Al Ahly but they are using him as a left-back. On the right they have Al Mohamady and (Mohamed) Salah. The Liverpool man (Salah) is just like Trezeguet because he is left-footed but plays on the right.”
The former national team coach reckons that for Bafana to succeed, they will have to ensure that the Egyptian fullbacks are not allowed to venture forward as freely as they have, and both Trezeguet and Salah should not be given room to cut inside.
And a counter-attacking game could do the trick.
“I think they will have to find the break and play out quicker so you get them on the break.”
Mosimane has also picked up that Egypt are the one team at the tournament who are very comfortable with starting their play from the back.
“Most of the teams kick the ball forward but not Egypt. They build up from the back, which is a brave thing to do and shows that they are not afraid to take risks.
“I was impressed by how Uganda played against them. They pressed them high up and forced them into mistakes; that is why Uganda created so many chances. I think their centre-back (Ali El Sayed) could be their weakness because he does not pass the ball out quickly.”
However, it is who Baxter chooses to play that will be key to Bafana avoiding a third Afcon finals defeat to the Pharaohs, though.@Tshiliboy