BAFANA Bafana head coach Pitso Mosimane is not perturbed, but a little disappointed by the action taken by the Egyptian Football Association’s decision to use their national Under 23 team with two rounds remaining in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Egypt FA chairman Samir Zaher has been quoted saying: “The results of the two matches are of no importance, so we decided to hand the task to the Olympic team. It could be ideal preparation for the London 2012 Olympic qualifier in December.”
Twenty nine (29) provisional players who play for the National Under 23 squad have been called up for their AFCON clash against Sierra Leone on September 3 in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
“It really doesn’t affect us much because even if they were using their strongest side we still have a job to do for ourselves, we still have to win our matches. The bottom line is that qualifying for the 2012 Afcon tournament is in our hands, irrespective of what the others teams do. We have to beat Niger and Sierra Leone to make sure we qualify, we don’t need any favours from anyone because in any case we have been top of our group since the beginning of the qualifiers. But at the same time it is amazing and disappointing at how Egypt looks at the Afcon qualifiers with two matches to go. We are talking about the Kings of Africa here, where’s the pride of Egypt? We don’t want to discredit their Under 23 squad but sending them to Freetown and then to host Niger looks like a donation of six points. Niger and Sierra Leone have to face us so we will fight for our six points, we must just focus on what we have to do, and I believe we can get those points in those two matches,” said Mosimane.
Captain and striker Ahmed Hassan has been included in the provisional squad to use his experience to guide the youngsters. The Zamalek midfielder has been capped 175 times for Egypt, and just returned from injury.
“Egypt has a good crop of talented players who gave us a tough time in our two matches against them, so it surprises me that they have been left out even though the FA says its rebuilding its aging side. They have the likes of Ahmed Elmohamady (25 years, 45 caps, Sunderland); Ahmed Fathy (26 years 82 caps, Al-Ahly); Ahmed Samir Farag (25 years 15 caps, Ismaily); Shikabala (25 years 17 caps, Zamalek); Geddo (26 years 21 caps, Al-Ahly); El Gabbas (23 years 8 caps, Lierse); Ahmed Ali (25 years 7 caps, Ismaily) and Ibrahim Salah (24 years 4 caps, Zamalek). So you ask yourself what is the future of all these players because they have not been called up. Is it not the time to build the team around them because they already have the experience to help the Under 23s,” said Mosimane.
The Pharaohs are currently bottom of Group G with two points after four matches. They trail group leaders South Africa by six points with two matches still left in the qualifiers. Niger is second with six points, following by Sierra Leone one point adrift.
South Africa defeated Egypt in the first leg played at the Ellis Park Stadium on March 26 with a Katlego Mphela goal in referee’s optional time. Bafana Bafana went on to play a goalless draw in the return leg on June 5 in Cairo.
Earlier in the qualifiers the Pharaohs drew one all with Siera Leone in September last year, then went on to lose 1-0 to Niger October 10 last year.
South Africa takes on Niger on September 4 in Niamey, Niger then host Sierra Leone in October.