South Africa exude positivity ahead of Egypt clash

South Africa goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune
Khune believes South Africa's recent experience will be vital in Cairo

South Africa goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune believes the experience gained in recent years will help against Egypt.

The sides clash in Cairo on 5 June, in a game the African champions need to win to have a chance of making next year's Africa Cup of Nations.

The visitors boast several players who contested both the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup.

"We've been together for a very long time and that has worked to our advantage," says Khune.

"I am happy with the core of the team, more so because we are all regulars at our clubs which benefits the national team immensely.

"Going to Egypt with such a formidable group of players brings nothing but confidence among us.

"We showed character in our first match against them, but we are under no illusion that it is going to be easy this time around."

South Africa currently top Group G with seven points, six more than bottom side Egypt who have yet to win one of their three games.

When the nations last met, South Africa won 1-0 in Johannesburg in March thanks to a last-minute winner from World Cup striker Katlego Mphela.

The Egyptian FA had tried to postpone the match since the reigning African champions' preparations were heavily affected by the political revolution sweeping the country but South Africa refused.

Hassan Shehata's side was unable to prepare in normal fashion, with his players short of match fitness given the suspension of the Egyptian league in late January.

With the league having returned in mid-April, Egypt's players are in far better physical condition - meaning Bafana Bafana are expecting a sterner test at the Cairo Military Stadium.

"The guys have been working their socks off during our time here … because we know that Egypt will be more prepared than in our last meeting with them," says midfielder Kagiso Dikgacoi.

"Being a good team that they are, they won't lie down and allow us to steal any point from them - we will have to fight very hard for anything.

"We have shown a lot of resilience since the Confederations Cup and the World Cup tournaments.

"We have also bonded very well and we gel very easily, even the new players coming in are able to slot in nicely.

"We need to be compact in Egypt and concentrate for more than ninety minutes so we can bring a win," he added.

Bafana Bafana are in the midst of a two-week preparation camp for the match in Egypt, which is seven days longer than normal.