Khune ready for Cairo battle
Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune is aware that they are in for a ferocious battle when they take on Egypt in their Group G 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match at the Cairo Military Academy Stadium on Sunday night, kick-off at 20:30.
Bafana have a chance to eliminate the 2010 AFCON champions in their home town, but Khune knows it will be no easy task as the Pharaohs are fighting for their lives.
“We are under no illusion that it is going to be easy, but we showed character in our first match against them to get the win.
We also went to Freetown and came back with a point, so I see no reason why we can’t do the same in Egypt,” explained the South African shot-stopper.
If South Africa do manage to pick up all three points in Cairo they could in fact eliminate Egypt from qualifying for the competition.
Should Bafana win they will see themselves on ten points while the Pharaohs would be stuck on one point with only two games to go.
With this in mind, Egypt’s coach Hassan Shehata admits the games against South Africa will make or break their qualifying campaign: “The first match against South Africa and the one coming up will be the decider of who goes to Gabon next year.
We were not prepared as well as we should have been for the first game.
The revolution made it hard for the players to arrive in their best condition, but we hope we will win this one.”
Khune believes that they have the best possible players to overcome Egypt and qualify for the 2012 AFCON competition: “I am happy with the core of the team, more so because we are all regulars at our clubs which benefits the national team immensely.
The guys have been working their socks off during our time in camp and that will help a great deal when it comes to a match situation.
“There has been a lot of commitment from the players at training because we know that Egypt will be more prepared than in our last meeting with them. Going to Egypt with such a formidable group of players brings nothing but confidence among us,” added the Kaizer Chiefs man.
Bafana have played two international friendlies against the Pharaohs in Cairo with each team having won one a match, the scorelines on both occasions reading 2-1. This trip to Cairo, however, will be South Africa’s first competitive away match against Egypt.
In conclusion, one of the Pharaohs superstars, Mohamed Zidan, feels he is at his best and believes his team can get back to their winning ways and still qualify for AFCON 2012.
“We need to get out of that dark tunnel we're in at the moment in order to repeat the achievement of being champions of Africa.
I believe we can do it. I feel I'm living my best football days and I want to make use of that.”