South Africa seeks government advice on Egypt game
South Africa football officials are being advised by their
government on the security situation in Egypt ahead of a crucial
African Cup of Nations qualifier in Cairo next month.
The South African Football Association had also written to the
Confederation of African Football to seek assurances over the
safety of its team ahead of the June 5 game, a spokesman said on
The South Africans are likely to face a hostile atmosphere at
the Cairo International Stadium, with Egypt’s volatile political
situation and a recent upsurge in crowd violence in north African
football combining with a disastrous run from the home team.
Seven-time African champion Egypt – winner of the last three Cup
of Nations – has to beat South Africa to keep alive slim hopes of
making the 2012 tournament.
There have also been deadly clashes in Egypt between Muslim and
Christian groups, and the 75,000-capacity Cairo International
Stadium saw a violent pitch invasion by home fans in an African
club game in April.
However, SAFA officials told reporters they were satisfied with
security in the Egyptian capital, where South Africa’s squad will
spend three days preparing ahead of the match.
”On the issue of possible violence and the outbreak of
sectarian violence in Cairo, we did write a letter to CAF just to
find out if the situation is conducive and so far everything seems
to be OK,” SAFA spokesman Morio Sanyane said. ”We haven’t
received anything to the contrary so the game will proceed as
scheduled on the 5th of June.”
SAFA also sought advice from its own government.
”Government intelligence sources are actually giving us updates
on this matter to make sure that everything is fine,” SAFA vice
president Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana said. ”So far, we have been
assured that everything will be good.”
South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane recalled leading players to a
23-man squad for the qualifier following a 1-0 win for an
under-strength Bafana Bafana over Tanzania in a friendly last
Mosimane said the Group G match would be stressful for his team,
with bottom-placed Egypt facing an embarrassing elimination,
”Difficult match. We all know what this match means for Egypt.
They don’t want anything less than a victory, obviously,” Mosimane
said. ”But I think we have a good team that can manage it and take
”Unfortunately we are facing the Egyptians in their back yard
and in desperate times.”
Tottenham midfielder Steven Pienaar was named captain of the
squad, which also included Maccabi Haifa defender Tsepo Masilela –
who returned after a four-month injury absence. Pienaar’s Tottenham
teammate Bongani Khumalo was missing with injury, while South
Africa-based goalkeeper Mbongeni Mzimela was the only uncapped
Portsmouth defender Aaron Mokoena was again left out, signaling
the end of the international career of South Africa’s World Cup
captain and most capped player.
Gerald Imray can be reached at