DURBAN — Gordon Igesund says he is proud of Bafana Bafana, but admits he is “gutted” after their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) quarter-final loss to Mali on penalties on Saturday night.
The match was drawn 1-1 after extra time and Bafana put in a woeful display in the shootout, with Siphiwe Tshabalala the only player out of four to convert his penalty.
“I’m shattered. Absolutely shattered, especially for the players,” Igesund told Kick Off.
“We played a very good game, especially in the first half and should have maybe gone 2-0 or 3-0 up. But it came down to penalties and it’s always hard to lose like that.
“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 coach said the nation should take heart from the fact that Bafana kept pace with one of the best teams on the continent.
“Yes, like everyone around the country I am hugely disappointed that we did not proceed to the last four,” Igesund said. “But I can tell you now I am very proud of my team tonight. They came here and matched one of the best teams on the continent and even took them to penalties.
“Just a pity with penalties it’s the luck of the draw, tonight luck was on Mali’s side. They took their penalty kicks well.
“My players showed lot of guts, determination and most of all self-belief.”
Igesund is set to keep his job at the Bafana helm after Safa president Kirsten Nematandani revealed earlier in the week: “We have two targets — one is the Afcon and qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Unfortunately the tournaments are not taking place simultaneously.”
This means Igesund, while failing at his first mandate of not making the semi-finals of Afcon, will still get a chance to fulfill his second obligation — qualifying for next year’s global showpiece.