South Africa keeper hopes choice of Ellis Park will intimidate the Pharaohs

Karim Farouk, Thursday 10 Mar 2011

The crowd are very close to the pitch at Ellis Park stadium and it could have an effect on the Egyptian players, says Bafana Bafana goalie

Egypt Ellis Park
Egypt played once at Ellis Park and beat Italy 1-0 in the Confederations Cup 2009

South Africa keeper Itumeleng Khune believes that choosing Ellis Park to host their crucial tie with Egypt in the 2012 African Cup of Nations’ qualifiers could increase South Africa's chances of winning the game.

“Going to Ellis Park means that the crowd are closer to the pitch, so hopefully Egypt will feel intimidated. As long as we are playing at home and have the supporters behind us, what more can we ask for? It’s our home advantage so we have to pick up three points,” he told

The fixture was expected to be played at Soccer City, the 95,000-capacity stadium on the border of Johannesburg and Soweto that hosted the World Cup final last year.

But the pitch, which was relaid after a U2 pop concert last month, was cut up badly from the start of the Soweto Derby between the Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates two weeks ago.

There were so many divots that the referee halted play in the middle of each half for a 'water break' on an afternoon that was not particularly hot, allowing ground staff to rush around the pitch and make temporary repairs.

Egypt wanted the game postponed until June because no domestic football has been possible since the popular uprising against the rule of Hosni Mubarak began two months ago, but South Africa insisted the fixture go ahead.

“We are all looking forward to the Egypt game. As you know, we are on top of the group and we can’t afford to slip up because then we will be out. We have to win every game, whether it’s home or away,” added Khune.

The Pharaohs are in a must-win situation after the catastrophic start of their defending campaign. The seven-time African champions were held at home 1-1 by Sierra Leone before being stunned by Niger 1-0 in Niamey to sink to the bottom of Group G with a single point, three behind leaders South Africa.

Egypt had a wonderful experience at Ellis Park when they beat World Champions 2006 Italy 1-0 in the group stage of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009.

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