South African international Steven Pienaar was a force to be reckoned with last night...“Obviously I’m very happy to have returned to the starting line-up. I think the most important thing for me was to use my experience in midfield,” the midfielder said.
Pienaar, who has come off a superb season for Everton, was noticeably vocal and busy throughout the match as he linked up play often from right to left or vice versa.
“The coach just told us to go out there and enjoy ourselves and we did, but I also tried to help my team-mates out there with advice and a bit of coaching," he said.
“When I had a few words with Bernard [Parker] during the second half, I just wanted us to be more patient and hold the ball better. It’s disappointing we didn’t score more goals because it might come back to haunt us but we must celebrate this victory and then look forward to Spain.
Echoing Pienaar’s sentiments on using experience was captain Aaron Mokoena – South Africa’s record cap holder on 87. “Steven’s return tonight was very important, the experience he has and the confidence he has on the ball was very important for us. It meant we could control the match,” the defender said.
Asked whether he thought South Africa’s vastly improved performance was down to a change from the ‘defensive’ tactics coach Santana employed against Iraq, the central defender disagreed. “We basically played 3-4-3 against Iraq and in my estimation that’s not defensive," he argued.
“Also, tonight we played 4-3-3 and that’s not defensive either. I feel we just played better tonight and knowing what we had to do was important.”
The Bafana Bafana captain knows exactly what lies ahead on Saturday, when South Africa face Spain.
“They’re a team packed with great players all over the field,” he said. “We know it will be a difficult match for us, but I think it will be difficult for them too. We play similar football but they have the experience over us.
“However, in saying that, we will be very determined and will throw everything at them.”