Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter was left disappointed with how they threw the game away after racing into the lead in the opening 15 minutes on Friday.
“First half, we got our noses in front. We were in control of the game. We had a period of 20 minutes where I said to the players we got to stay true to ourselves. Instead, we went into the back-foot mode, not taking responsibility and losing the ball too easily,” Baxter told the media.
Tokelo Rantie gave South Africa an early lead, but it was short-lived with the host striking twice within minutes to take full control of the first half en-route to clinching the maximum points.
They suffered a major blow in the second half when Eric Mathoho got a straight red card for an off the ball incident, and Baxter admits it will be difficult to replace the lanky defender for the return leg in Durban.
“The problem is replacing Tower. It’s a bit difficult because it’s never easy to have a man sent off and you got to replace him,” Baxter said.
“Composure, discipline and focus you got to have them. Tower’s got to learn from this and hopefully he will. He is despondent. He feels he has let everybody down,” Baxter added.
Baxter expects Bafana to bounce back in the second leg, but he admitted that he will be watching Saturday's clash between Burkina Faso and Senegal with interest.
“Winners are not the ones that win all the time. Winners are the ones that respond to the negative things that happens and we got to respond absolutely. We got to see what the other results bring and get ourselves back in it,” Baxter said.