Ronwen Williams does not think Bafana Bafana will be put off by a near-empty Cairo International Stadium when they take on Nigeria on Wednesday evening in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. (kick off 9pm)
Bafana drew inspiration from fervent home crowd of 70 000 home fans at the same stadium on Saturday to stun the Pharaohs and reach the last eight. It is now highly likely the Nigeria-Bafana game will be played out in front of few supporters, given the distance between Egypt and both nations.
“It was a nice atmosphere (on Saturday) and the players do enjoy large crowds, but for me it is not a negative,” said Williams at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference.
“It just means my back four will hear me a bit more, my voice was breaking a bit, because I was trying to scream at the top of my voice (in the last game). It is nice both ways.”
Bafana coach Stuart Baxter, meanwhile, pointed out that South Africa are used to poor crowds for their home games.
“Dare I say it crowds in South Africa for some international matches are quite sparse,” said Baxter.
“Sometimes when we are playing at FNB Stadium, that takes 94 000 fans, we play in front of crowds of 10 000-15 000 people. The players were inspired by the crowd the other evening, but I hope they don’t need that sort of crowd to find that inspiration. This is special now, we are getting to the sharp end of the competition and people who think like winners end up winning.
“We know we have a tough opponent and we have to be completely focused and understand that and take all the mental energy we can muster and not be dependent on getting up for it just because the crowd is.”