Pretoria – Bafana Bafana will wrap up their training session at the Randfontein stadium before they jet off to Cairo this evening.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup host team will face Egypt in the second leg of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier match on Sunday at the Cairo Military Academy Stadium.
The team return to Johannesburg from their base camp in the North West Province on Wednesday.
Sensational midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala made his debut for the national team in Cairo five years ago in a friendly international match to prepare for the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
He came on as a substitute in the 61st minute, replacing Lebohang Mokoena.
This time the Bafana Bafana vice-captain will be in the starting 11 when his home country tackles the Pharaohs in the crucial 2012 Afcon match.
Tshabalala missed Bafana Bafana’s last friendly match against Tanzania and ironically, the last match he played for the national team was the one-nil victory over Egypt in the first leg of the 2012 Afcon.
“It’s good to be back in the team once again. There is always the pride of playing for your country. This match means a lot to me as I will be returning to the place where I made my debut.
“Back then I was a youngster and I have grown in confidence and experience, and I am a lot wiser now. Even though I have travelled a lot with the national team, this will still be a different experience for me,” he said.
The left-footed player brings a wealth of experience in the squad and shares the spot as the most-capped player with Steven Pienaar on 58 caps.
Tshabalala has scored seven goals for Bafana Bafana and will be hoping that they continue from where they left off the last time against the North Africans.
“We can’t emphasise this enough – victory is vital for us to stay top of the group. A draw will still suffice, but three points will be great.
“We have done very well up to this point and we can’t let it slip now. It would be great to help my team mates get another victory over Egypt. Our approach should be business-like because they are fighting for their lives in the qualifiers so nothing will come easy for us,” he said.
Bafana striker Davide Somma, who will be on his first plane to Cairo, is overjoyed at the prospect of taking on the Pharaohs in their backyard.
“I haven’t been to Egypt, but I saw their team when they were here that they looked good. I think we did well to beat them at Ellis Park and I don’t see a reason we can’t do the same there.
“In the past, we have had difficulties against them, but the coach has conditioned us well. I also love the spirit in the camp which is teeming with talented players,” he said. – Nthambeleni Gabara, BuaNews