Government advises SAFA
Johannesburg - 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 spokesperson 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 spokesperson 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 team-mate 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.