Johannesburg - Former Bafana Bafana captain Neil Tovey says the public needs to be patient with the national soccer team as they are still a work in progress.
"This team has been together for a few months and I think we need to give the team a chance to build," Tovey told SAPA on Wednesday.
"I don't think we should be quick to judge them. We need to give them more time to play together and to gain experience."
Bafana were outplayed 2-1 by Ghana 2-1 on Tuesday, in their third and final group match at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Equatorial Guinea, and subsequently knocked out of the tournament.
They failed to live up to expectations in a tough Group C, mustering a draw against Senegal and a receiving a hiding from Algeria.
Tovey believed the opening 3-1 loss to Algeria had been hugely demoralising.
"That was a tough one to swallow because it was in our hands. We scored first and could have made it two goals. It killed us, we should have won."
Despite their elimination from AFCON, Bafana had an above average record under coach Shakes Mashaba with six wins, five draws and two losses since he took over in August last year.
The former central defender urged fellow South Africans to support the team as they looked to build for the future.
"Remember the plan was to look to the future and this was the first test in a long journey for the team," Tovey said.
"I am sure they will bounce back and do well in the future once they have played many games together."
Tovey, who led Bafana to AFCON glory in 1996, believed the current team's Achilles heel was when they did not have the ball.
"The defence definitely needs to be looked at. I think the whole shape of the team defensively was not at its best.
"In future, they will have to improve their communication and formation against strong opposition."
The Kaizer Chiefs legend said Mashaba's young troops had gained invaluable experience from the tournament in West Africa.
"They still have a long way to go. They will learn from this tournament and become better players.
"The team has a bunch of youngsters which gives us all hope that they can still improve."