Igesund gracious in defeat
Bafana Bafana were gracious in their defeat after being knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament last night.
Coach Gordon Igesund said he was proud of his players as they gave their all with the teams locked at 1-1 after 120 minutes.
Igesund said any coach in the competition would have enjoyed working with his players.
“I am sad and disappointed but I am very proud as we lost with dignity, pride and passion. We played a very good game, especially in the first half and should have maybe scored more goals. But it came down to penalties, and it’s always hard to lose like that,” said Igesund.
Bafana lost on penalties after scoring only one from four spot kicks. Siphiwe Tshabalala scored his penalty while Dean Furman and May Mahlangu’s kicks were saved by Mali goalkeeper Soumbeila Diakite and Lehlohonolo Majoro’s shot went wide.
But Igesund was full of praise of his players.
“The guys showed a lot of heart, pride and commitment once again, and I’m very proud of them, but I’m also hurting for them. The players showed lots of guts, determination and most of all self-belief.”
He said Bafana lost to a good team in Mali, who are ranked third on the continent.
“It was not easy out there but we matched them throughout the game and the game could have gone either way. Congratulations to them and I wish them luck in the semifinal.”
Igesund said he was looking forward to the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualification. Bafana play the Central African Republic next month needing a win to get their qualifying campaign back on track.
Bafana have collected a mere two points in two games after drawing with Ethiopia and Botswana and are third in the group.
Igesund said he hoped the experience gained from the tournament would help his players go all the way.
“We have made lots of strides since I took over in July and the future looks bright for the team. Now our biggest focus is to qualify for Brazil and I am positive we will.”
Igesund said he would welcome back players who missed the tournament through injuries.
“We lost a lot of players just before the tournament but this gave others the opportunity to showcase their skill. I am happy with every player’s contribution but it would be nice to have everybody back.”
Bafana went into the tournament without the likes of Morgan Gould, Daylon Claasen and Eric Mathoho.