Bafana escape Afcon exit but face daunting task in last-16 tie with Egypt

Watch South Africa vs Egypt in Afcon 2019 with DStv and SuperSport

A great escape or pure luck, South Africa are in the last 16 of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations despite losing twice in the group stage. And their reward is a clash against tournament favourites and host nation Egypt in Cairo on Saturday.

Stuart Baxter’s side lost to Ivory Coast and Morocco in Group D but progressed in the tournament courtesy of the new Afcon format in which four third-placed teams in their respective groups qualify for the knockout phase. There were few bright spots from the group matches for Bafana Bafana besides beating Namibia 1-0, but even that comes with a caveat as the men from the other side of the Orange River are outside the top 100 in the world and are one of the weakest teams at Afcon.

Bafana’s overly defensive performance against Morocco last time out will not provide the Egyptians with too much cause for concern. The Pharaohs have in Mohamed Salah one of the best players on the planet and the Liverpool star has already hit the back of the net twice in his team’s three matches - a tally that exceeds Bafana goal-scoring tally of just one

After a somewhat nervy opening win against Zimbabwe, the North Africans cruised to 2-0 victories over DR Congo and Uganda respectively. Unlike Bafana, Egypt coach Javier Aguirre fielded an unchanged team in two of their three group matches, and that consistency has ensured that they remain unbeaten and have yet to concede a goal at Afcon.

Baxter, meanwhile, seems uncertain on his best combinations, having tinkered with the makeup of the team throughout the competition. He made four changes after the defeat to the Ivorians and then made several changes to the side that beat Namibia. There will be no room for errors in selection of personnel and on the pitch, Bafana will have to be at their best to stop Egypt from marching into the quarter-finals.

South Africa key player: Percy Tau arrived in Egypt with a big reputation and a big burden of responsibility on his shoulders. However, the forward has so far failed to live up to the hype and Bafana need him to produce some magic for his goal-shy side.

Egypt key player: Salah may be the obvious choice but Pharaohs skipper Ahmed Elmohamady is the man of the moment. The right-back had a fantastic season with Aston Villa in England and has taken that form into Afcon, where he has scored two goals and proved a constant threat on attack while being solid on defence.

Stream all the Afcon 2019 matches with SuperSport and DStv. Download the DStv Now app and don’t miss a moment. Plus, all of Bafana Bafana’s matches will also be available on Showmax.