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

Thursday.

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

weekend.

Mosimane said the Group G match would be stressful for his team,

with bottom-placed Egypt facing an embarrassing elimination,

heightening tensions.

”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

the stress.

”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

player.

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

http://twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP