Bafana coach Gordon Igesund remains positive about his hard working players, and says they must now focus on preparations for qualifying for the 2014 Fifa World Cup
After South Africa's penalty shootout defeat against Mali in the quarterfinal of the 2013 Afcon, a sad Igesund stressed the importance of courage and always staying positive.
“My boys did very well and I don’t blame them. I think it was just not to be. We came to this match knowing that one of the teams will have to leave, and unfortunately it was us,” said Igesund.
The team fought till the end, in a match that Igesund had anticipated as one that would end in the 90 minutes.
“If there is a team that I am ever proud of, it has to be this current Bafana squad. They have responded well in everything that was expected of them. They showed passion, perseverance, determination and they had the will to win. I guess some things are just meant to be."
Bafana looked comfortable, winning the game 1-0 until shocking marking saw Seydou Keita equalise with a header. The South African's lost their stride as the Mali midfield got back into the game at 1-1. Both teams rallied toward the penalty shootout, where Bafana missed three spot kicks.
"We were hoping that we would finish the match in the 90 minutes but that was not the case, as both teams showed how bad they wanted it,” said Igesund.
With the World Cup qualifiers around the corner, the coach said he would like to keep the same squad, but also keeping in mind that there are some players who missed out due to injuries.
“Working with the team in the past few weeks has made us gel. I think most of the players who played in the Afcon did well, and they stand a chance to go with me in this journey. We must not forget that there are players like Morgan Gould and Ayanda Patosi amongst many who were unfortunate to not make the team.
“What is important now is that players must fight for their spot, and as I have done before, no player will just walk in because they are known (names). My current players were hungry. They played with pride and knew that they are representing the nation more than anything else,” said Igesund.
Igesund also extended his appreciation to the nations support.
"We could not have gotten this far if it was not for the support that we got from the nation. We are so humble and I can promise them that the future of South African football is bright."