CAIRO – Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter said all the pressure was on hosts Egypt ahead of the crunch 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) last-16 match between the two sides at the Cairo International Stadium on Saturday.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference in Cairo on Friday, Baxter said his team would try to match the Pharaohs in every aspect of the game.
“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,” said the Bafana coach.
“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.”
The coach hinted that his tactic might include not allowing the home side to dictate the pace in the opening minutes, in a bid to frustrate the boisterous home supporters.
“We will go into the game quietly, believing we can cause an upset, but also knowing we have to play very, very well because this is a good Egyptian team and they will have massive support.
“But one of the jobs we have to do is to try to quieten the crowd by being a tougher opponent than what the people think.”
Baxter, however, admitted Bafana would have to be at their best throughout the game to achieve their objective of causing an upset.
“This will be a great challenge and an inspiring challenge to be meeting Egypt.
“But if we can bring some frustration into the mix and the crowd becomes a little bit impatient, their players will feel that on the field.
“Being the home nation can be a good thing, but it can also bring big pressure if they feel they are not pleasing that massive crowd.
“We will definitely give it a good shout on Saturday,” added Baxter.
Baxter said midfielder Dean Furman was still being assessed by the medical stuff before any decision on whether he will play or not is made.
“Dean Furman trained yesterday and he trained quite well.
“We took him out towards the end of the training as a precaution, and we are waiting to see the reaction to that training today (Friday). The medical team will tell me the way forward.”
He also admitted that losing Themba Zwane, who is suspended after picking up two yellow cards in the group stages, was a blow.
“Themba has been playing very well for us and is a very important part of the team. 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 (Thembinkosi). They all want to put up their hands and get a chance.”
African News Agency (ANA)