Bafana Bafana challenge hosts Egypt for a place in the last eight

Mohamed Salah and Ali Ghazal of Egypt going to warm up during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals Uganda and Egypt at Cairo International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt on 30 June 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Hosts Egypt are hoping to continue their winning streak when they lock horns with South Africa’s Bafana Bafana on Saturday (6 July 2019) at the Cairo International Stadium. The round of 16 fixture kicks off at 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT), with the winner setting a date against either Nigeria or Cameroon in the quarterfinals.

Egypt topped group A with maximum points and without conceding after three victories over Zimbabwe (1-0), DR Congo (2-0) and Uganda (2-0). Meanwhile, South Africa had to wait till the last minute to guarantee their last eight spot as one of the four best ranked third placed teams. Bafana Bafana collected just three points in Group D with victory over Namibia (1-0) and two identical 1-0 defeats to Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco.

Thulani Serero of South Africa tackled by Ghanem Saiss of Morocco during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals South Africa and Morocco at Al Salam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt on 01 July 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

With skipper Ahmed Elmohamady and superstar Mohamed Salah producing their magic in the group stage and scoring twice each, Egypt will draw some relief from that fact besides the brilliance of winger Mahmoud Hassan “Trezeguet”, and the inform goalkeeper Mohamed ElShenawy.

Meanwhile, South Africa will pray their influential forward Percy Tau finds his feet to make the difference in front of an expected “full house” at the Cairo International Stadium.

This is the third AFCON meetings between Egypt and South Africa, with the Pharaohs winning both previous ones, in 1996 group stage and 1998 final.

Previous AFCON meetings

24.01.1996 Johannesburg South Africa 0-1 Egypt (Group Stage)

28.02.1998 Ouagadougou South Africa 0-2 Egypt (Final)

What they said

Javier Aguirre (Head Coach, Egypt)

I believe it’s going to be a complicated game. South Africa is a very good team especially defensively. I’m satisfied with my team. We will miss (Mahmoud) Gennish and (Ahmed Hassan) Koka due to injury. I hope we can achieve a good result. We don’t have a physical problem now and in our last game, the players played in full power till the last minute. Pressure is always here and that’s normal because we’re playing at home. Our players are matured and know well how to play under pressure, and that’s a positive point. The physical preparation is very important for us. We are preparing for every situation including penalty shootout if needed. We don’t have any offensive problem, just one team scored more than us. All the teams play against us with nothing to lose in mind.

Ahmed Elmohamady (Captain, Egypt)

The pressure is normal in football especially when we’re playing at home and are expected to win every game. I commend our supporters for coming in their numbers and I hope they will continue doing same tomorrow. Our fans don’t need a message. They supported us well in the first round and we know they will do the same. Also playing at Cairo stadium is a big advantage for us. Our target is the title and we’re doing all what we’ve got to achieve it. I dream of lifting the trophy.

Stuart Baxter (Head Coach, South Africa)

We had very little time to prepare properly. Playing against the home team is an inspiring challenge. Knowing the Egyptian people and their passion for football and their great expectation, the pressure is on them. For them, it’s a national disaster if we beat them; for us it’s just disappointing. So we will play and we know we can cause an upset. We know they will have great support at the start of the game but we will do our best. Missing Temba Zwane due to suspension is a blow because he was doing very well for us, but we have good players that could replace him when they get the chance. Most games in this AFCON were decided on one incident, our game against Morocco is a good example. Morocco and Egypt are being impressive and they are most favorites for the title. We have to stop their key players as a team and if we did so, it’s not going to be an easy game.

Bongani Zungu (Player, South Africa)

We prepared well and mentally focused. We know it’s going to be a very tough game. We are looking forward to a nice game for the Cairo people. It’s normal, they’re the host and they’ve got good players that we respect, but on the pitch its 11 versus 11. It should be a nice football game. We have to focus and prepare well and we’re confident. I think we have been defending very well and it’s inspiring to be part of the national team that reached the last 16. We are excited with this challenge and we are ready. We have quality players and hopefully we will show that at the game.