South Africa coach Stuart Baxter admitted to deep disappointment after his side’s COSAFA Cup quarterfinal exit on Sunday but says the team will keep working hard in the Plate competition.
Bafana Bafana were beaten on penalties by Madagascar following a 0-0 draw and now face old foes Namibia in the Plate semifinals at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday evening (kickoff 17h00; 15h00 GMT).
Baxter felt his team were the better side in their quarterfinal loss, but admitted that once they allowed the tie to go to penalties, it was always going to be a lottery.
“Football is football … Zambia went to penalties on Saturday and won, we went to penalties and lost. It’s a lottery. You have to keep your nerve and our players didn’t,” Baxter said.
“I thought we were the better team in 90 minutes, but that doesn’t count for anything if you don’t score. In the second half we weren’t as dangerous as we were in the first and the longer the game went, the more the younger players started to stress and that is the experience they need.
“Of course we would rather be playing in the main trophy and the only way you can make it up is by working hard and showing the strategy that we had when we approached this tournament is still in place. The players will work and learn.
“When we played the way we discussed we would, we played well. When we played through them quickly and didn’t take too long to allow them to get set, we threatened behind their defenders. We created chances.
“When we over-played, and played too slowly, then Madagascar could play in a block, then it makes it very difficult to pick your way through.
“Is it fair to say that a group that has been together for five or six days should do that all the time? Maybe that is unfair of me.
“What we didn’t do well was the opposite of that, we played too slowly, we didn’t compress the game at the right time, a bit slow to counter-press. But that is because they have not been together long and some of them were very nervous today.”
The other Plate semifinal sees Swaziland host Botswana at 19h30 (17h30 GMT). Entrance to the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium is FREE.