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The Everton winger thinks the hosts let the high expectations handicap them in Johannesburg today...

South Africa were held to a goalless draw by Iraq in the opening game of the Confederations Cup today, and star midfielder Steven Pienaar felt that an inability to deal with the pressure of being the host nation caused Bafana Bafana to under-perform.

The South Africans showed plenty of attacking intent, but little true cutting edge, as they spurned several straightforward chances to find the net, and Pienaar feels that they must learn to deal with the expectation that comes with being hosts, particularly as they look towards next year's World Cup in the Republic.

"We are definitely disappointed because we expected a lot from this game," the Everton winger told FIFA's official website.

"If you can get three points in the opening game, it normally takes a lot of pressure off a team.

"Now we have our backs against the wall. But we just have to stay focused and there's still two games. So we'll have to give everything then.

"In the first half, we were a bit poor and gave the ball away easily. I think Iraq were very well organised and it was difficult for the guys to break them down.

"We knew the first game was going to be difficult, everyone was expecting a win, so we're just disappointed now. But I'm glad it's over now and we can look forward to the next game, hopefully a bit more relaxed."

Pienaar himself only enjoyed minimal participation in the game, emerging from the bench for the last five minutes. But he concluded by explaining that there were no major injury concerns for fans to worry about, adding, "I was ill the whole week, that's why I started on the bench. I feel much better now and things should be okay."

Zack Wilson, Goal.com

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