Santander - South Africa's fitness cost them victory against Spain on Monday, according to goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse, after the national men's hockey team conceded two late goals to go down 5-3 in Santander.
The South Africans had played India less than 24 hours prior to the Spanish clash.
"The fitness showed a bit in the last five minutes and mentally it's tough," Pieterse said.
"From a fitness point-of-view it's a big ask, but also mentally we have to switch on.
"But we have to take this, we are preparing for the Olympics, and this is typical tournament hockey."
South Africa lost their second consecutive match on tour, ending a string of four games unbeaten, but Pieterse believed their was no need to panic as the tourists were encouraged by aspects of what they saw on Monday afternoon.
"Of course we want a result in every game, even if it's a friendly," he said.
"We're representing our country and we want to get a result, but there is also a process in place.
"It's not always just about the result. Our performances are very important."
Pieterse admitted they were disappointed to come so close against a side ranked seven places above them, but he believed the South Africans had come a long way since the 2010 World Cup, where Spain beat SA 4-2 in the pool stages.
"From two years ago at the World Cup to where we are now, it just shows you how far we've come," Pieterse said.
"We are actually disappointed losing against a team that's ranked fifth in the world and who won silver at the Beijing Olympics.
"We are really pushing hard to be champions and we are coming so close."
With only India left to play, on Wednesday, before wrapping up their European tour, Pieterse said the South Africans were constantly working on improving their game.
They were not far off, he believed, in achieving the type of structure they hoped to display at the Olympics.
"For us it's just the small things that we have to tweak," the keeper said.
"Obviously consistency is the biggest thing for us at the moment.
"We have to make sure that we are consistent right through the game, right through the 70 minutes, and I think that's maybe something that we didn't get right [against Spain], especially in the last five minutes when we were 3-3.
"We know exactly what we have to fix. It's not like we are searching and thinking of what we have to get right.
"We have to make sure that we execute properly and get all these things right."