Record seven-time winners of the Africa Cup of Nations and defending champions Egypt are staring failure to qualify for the 2012 AFCON finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, and have declared that tomorrow's tie against Group G leaders Bafana Bafana a "decider".
Egypt are currently achoring standings in Group G, having managed just a single point in a disappointing home draw against Sierra Leone on 5 September, followed by a 0-1 loss to Niger on 10 October last year which shocked the continent.
In the event that Bafan beat the champions at Ellis Park tomorrow, and move to 7 points, while Egypt remain bottom on a single point, there won't be any chance for Egypt to rise from the dead.
The Pharaohs coach Hassan Shehata is not oblivious of that reality and has accordingly conceded that the 26th March tie has to be a decider in terms of who qualifies from Group G as the winner.
"This match and the next one will be the decider who goes to Gabon next year.
"South Africa are a strong team and but we need to make sure that we play as a team to beat them. The players we have are all very experienced so we know they are good enough to perform under pressure," Shehata said from his team's base in Johannesburg today.
Intelligent Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane is taking a cautious approach, rebuffing local media suggestions that Egypt will be like daily bread to the South Africans due to rustiness.
Supersport United coach Gavin Hunt and defender Thabo September,who themselves were easily beaten by Al Ahly in the CAF Champions league have been quoted by the media suggesting that Egypt are off form and beatable on Saturday.
Egypt's team, which draws much of its playing personnel from the local league has been dubbed "rusty" by some overzealous sections of the local media in South Africa, who see nothing short of a convincing victory for the hosts.
But "Jingles", as Mosimane is affectionately known, is not buying any of the stuff coming from the local media zealots, and refuses to rest on his believe media sporting propaganda.
If anything, Jilnges makes a point that Egypt are not out of form, but that they have just been unlucky with results in their two previous 2012 AFCON qualifiers against Sierra Leone and Niger.
"Egypt were not bad against Sierra Leone. They did everything they could and the Sierra Leone goalkeeper was just unbelievable. Egypt hit the post twice in that match so in my opinion they were not bad.
"Against Niger, they were not bad either because the Niger goalkeeper was under stress. Egypt controlled the match in Niger and Niger scored through a counter attack.
Sometimes you play good and you lose, that's what happened to Egypt and sometimes you play bad and win," Mosimane explained to Kick-Off.com on Thursday.
Mosimane expects the Egypt match to be one his toughest in his coaching career, and thinks it will be a mentally taxing match.
"It will be a game that's tactically demanding and emotionally exhausting, but that's okay," Mosimane reasoned.
A win for Bafana will certainly help them put one hand on the qualification ticket.
After the Egypt encounter, Bafana will have one home match remaining, and two away matches against Niger and Egypt to contend with.
On the other hand, a victory for Egypt will put them on equal points with South Africa, and with the return match coming in June, hard on the heels of tmorrow's fixture, Egypt could bounce back into contention for a place at the finals in style.
There is everything to play for for both teams tomorrow.
Judging from the statements from both coaches, a draw is likely to be the result of a match which the Bafana coach expects to be "tactically demanding and emotionally exhausting".