13 days ago
‘MY BEST CAREER WIN’
Stuart Baxter shows the V for Victory sign after Bafana Bafana defeated host nation, Egypt, in their important Afcon clash in Cairo. Photo byBackpagepix  ~ 

BAFANA Bafana’s elimination of Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) has led to heads to roll in the Egyptian Football Association (EFA).

Thembinkosi Lorch’s late minute strike, for a SA’s 1-0 win, not only pierced through the hearts of the host nation but it led to the resignation of EFA president Hany Abo Rida shortly after he had sacked the Pharaohs head coach Javier Aguirre and his entire technical staff yesterday morning.

The Cairo International Stadium went dead silent after the Lorch goal. You would hear a pin drop from the capacity crowd at the venue.

It was an embarrassing defeat to stomach for Egypt who before Saturday’s 1-0 defeat had not lost at their home since 1986 when they hosted the continental tournament.

The Pharaohs came into the game on Saturday having won all their group matches and had scored five goals without conceding in three matches.

Visibly shell-shocked Egyptian players even refused to give media interviews the moment they emerged from the dressing rooms.

In contrast, excitement was written all over the faces of Bafana coach Stuart Baxter and his players when they came out of the tunnel of the Cairo International Stadium.

Baxter himself has been under immense pressure leading to Saturday’s game, with many criticising his tactics and calling for his head.

South Africa were written off as no-hopers after they scrapped through in the first round to sneak into the knockout stage as one of the competition’s third best ranked sides.

“This is probably one of the best performances in Afcon. The players gave a tactical master class. For me, it doesn’t change anything. It was just another day at the office,” said Baxter, adding that the upset over the seven-time African champions ranks high in his coaching career.

“To compare the results is difficult but if you knock out the host nation in front of about 80 000 people, you can congratulate Egypt for having unbelievable supporters. (Now) They can always support South Africa if they want. It ranks very high though.”

Credit must also go to Percy Tau who’s initial shot on target in the first half was saved by the Egyptian goalie, Mohamed El Shenawy, which gave hope to Bafana.

Left-back Sifiso Hlanti neutralised dangerman Mo Salah.

There was also Bongani Zungu who was also in his element in midfield for all the crosses that bridged the Egyptian midfield.

Bafana have now taken over the Cairo Stadium as their home ground for as long as they remain in the tournament.

They will face Nigeria in the quarterfinals on Wednesday in a 9pm kick-off.

Asked how he would approach the game against the Super Eagles on, Baxter said: “Very carefully.”

C

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