Bafana arrive in Cairo
Pitso Mosimane (Gallo Images)
Cairo - Bafana Bafana have arrived in the Egyptian capital Cairo for their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying clash against the hosts on Sunday.
The team arrived early in the morning to the sounds of vuvuzelas at the airport from some of the South African supporters based in Egypt.
Bafana Bafana held their first training session at a field near the Cairo International Stadium. All the players took part in the drill except captain Steven Pienaar who was training on his own under the watchful eye of the team’s medical team. Pienaar is being monitored after he limped off at the squad’s final training session in Johannesburg after injuring his knee following a collision with defender Happy Jele.
He will undergo further assessment on Saturday.
Head coach Pitso Mosimane has told the media that he will not rush the player into playing against Egypt, and might even delay naming his match day squad in order to give the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder a chance to recover.
Should Pienaar not be available for the clash, vice captain Siphiwe Tshabalala will lead the team.
Spectators at the training session included president of the South African Football Association (SAFA), Kirsten Nematandani and SAFA vice president Mandla Mazibuko who are in Egypt to give the team moral support. They also addressed the team in the evening.
"We have come a long way, the light we are seeing now is of hope because we have a team that knows where it’s going. What we are seeing here is a united squad working for a common goal, and our position on the world and continental rankings clearly indicates that," said Nematandani.
"Bafana Bafana has rediscovered itself and there is no reason why we should go back to our dark days. Sunday is not going to be easy, and it’s a match that calls upon you players to rise to show you are the best. "Stand up and be counted as millions of your supporters back home will be rooting for you. You are carrying the hopes of the nation. We have to be victorious on Sunday as this will form part of our vision to be number one on the continent and we believe nothing will hold us back. You have a chance to write your own history and leave a footprint. Good luck and all the best," said Nematandani.
His words were echoed by the vice president.
"We are here to deliver a message of support on behalf of the Association and the nation in general. You have so far done us and yourselves very proud. Without putting you under unnecessary pressure we know you will continue with your good work on Sunday against Egypt. You have our full support. Just go out there and enjoy yourselves, victory will come. This match will be broadcast live on television which puts you under tremendous pressure as our people will be watching, but we are confident you can pull it off," said Mazibuko.