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Bafana coach wary of Egypt threat

 

By Ed Aarons,
BBC Sport, Johannesburg

 

Pitso Mosimane

Mosimane took over as Bafana Bafana coach in July

South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane says Egypt are still strong candidates to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

The North Africans are bottom of Group G in the race for the next finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea after a shocking start by their own high standards.

They were held to a draw at home by lowly Sierra Leone before losing to Niger, much to the shock of the football world.

But Mosimane, whose Bafana Bafana side host the Pharaohs in their next qualifying fixture in March, is wary of the threat they pose.

“We’ll be playing at home so we are expected to win and we want to win,” he told BBC Sport.

Despite the disparity in their results so far – South Africa boast a win and a draw – Mosimane reckons Egypt are still the team to beat.

“We know what they are capable of there – they are not three-time African champions for nothing.

“It won’t be easy because they hammered Australia 3-0 in their last match and that tells you they are coming back to form.”

South Africa lost 1-0 against the United States in a friendly on 17 November – their first defeat under Mosimane since he succeeded Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira.

But it has been a positive year for the 1996 African champions in which they put together a 13-match unbeaten run before the World Cup.

“If you look at the whole calendar year, then we did very well. We only lost two games and made real improvements,” Mosimane reflected.

“I took over from Parreira in July and so far things have gone well; I’m enjoying the challenges.”

He admitted that hosting the World Cup has benefitted his players and the country as a whole.

“The attitude has completely changed among the players and their physical conditioning is far better than ever before,” he said.

“The legacy of the World Cup has been a big debate but I think we are reaping the awards of hosting the tournament.”

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