South Africa team not a 'bunch of losers', insists president

Following heavy criticism from the nation's sports minster, Jacob Zuma has defended coach Gordon Igesund and said the side should not be disbanded

South Africa president Jacob Zuma has defended the national football team following heavy criticism from the country's sports minister.

Fikile Mbalula branded the hosts "useless" and a "bunch of losers" following their group-stage exit from the African Nations Championship, where their only victory came against Group A basement side Mozambique.

However, Zuma has come out in support of Gordon Igesund's men, made up entirely of players plying their trade for clubs in South Africa, who saw Mali and Nigeria claim the top two spots in the group.

"The fact that the team lost, that doesn't mean anything as other teams lost as well," he told SAfm.

"Some want the team disbanded. It has improved greatly and needs support."

Despite a poor showing in the tournament, which ended with a 3-1 defeat to Nigeria, Zuma feels Igesund is the right man to take the side forward.

"We're well aware that some people are criticising the way the national team played against Nigeria," the nation's president continued.

"The current coach knows what he's doing. He's great at his job."

But South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan hinted that an overhaul the country's set-up was afoot after failing to reach the knockout stage of the tournament.

"I am fully aware that the national team needs urgent attention and we are dealing with the situation," he said.

"We have a meeting already scheduled in early February where the team name, technical staff and technical sponsorship will be addressed."