CAIRO – In an astounding victory for Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s soccer team beat the host – and one of the favourites – Egypt 1-0 in the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday. The winning goal, just five minutes before the end of the match, was played by Thembinkosi Lorch.
The loss for Egypt was significant, for it has been the Africa champion seven times, while Bafana Bafana is often ridiculed for its poor performance on the soccer field.
In its first three matches of the African Cup, the team was criticised for its poor play. At the 75,000-seat Cairo International Stadium today, however, Bafana fought off the Egyptians for 85 minutes until Lorch sneaked through for his goal.
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter called his player’s performance “tactical masterclass”.
“We say sometimes that African players cannot be tactically smart, that northern Africans are usually so much better than the southern Africans, but I think the players they showed a masterclass. It was excellent,” said Baxter.
“I think they had to play in a very brave way, to press high against such a good team as is Egypt, but for me that was the only way we could win the game because if you allow them to build possession and get the ball in to their best players, then we would have massive problems.”
Referring to the loss of two of South Africa’s group games, Baxter said: “In the first couple of games we weren’t 100 percent satisfied with our attacking play and our movement around the box and we had to improve on that.
“Challenging the players and showing them the movements we wanted to make was something we fixed. But the most important thing was to play a game that I don’t think Egypt expected us to play.
“They would have expected us, I think, to play deeper and therefore, that way, we surprised them with that game plan. I think we did it very well.”
Bafana Bafana will next face off in the quarter finals against Nigeria, who beat Cameroon earlier on Saturday, on Wednesday, July 10.