THE role of the crowd, the 12th man, cannot be overemphasised in a tournament a big as the Africa Cup of Nations.Stuart Baxter, for one, is certainly not underestimating the impact of the fans in a match.
In fact, the Bafana Bafana coach has admitted his feelings of envy towards the 75 000 Egyptian fans, who packed the Cairo Stadium for South Africa’s epic Last 16 clash against the Pharaohs on Saturday.
Bafana caused arguably the biggest upset of the tournament so far as they bundled the hosts out of their own party.
Now Baxter would love to see the Egyptians throwing their weight behind Bafana.
“It was very important that Egypt don’t build momentum and get the full support of the crowd,” said Baxter.
“Even they (Egypt team) could feel a little bit nervous because the game was an even game, and not them rolling all over us.
“Congratulations to Egypt, though. They have amazing support. It is incredible. They should be proud. They (Egypt fans) can always support South Africa (With Egypt now out), if they want. We would love to have some support.”
Baxter added that, though the crowd was always going to be an aspect, the most important thing was to play a game “Egypt would not expect”.
“They would have expected us to play deeper, and therefore I wanted us to press higher and surprise them with our game plan,” he said.
“That helped us to get a foothold in the game.
“We often say that African players can’t be technically smart and that North African players are much better than the Southern Africans. But I think the players showed their master class.
“The win ranks very, very high for me.”