Johannesburg - The South African Under-23 men's national soccer team arrived back in the country on Monday after participating in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Under-23 championship in Morocco.
South Africa played three matches, drawing 1-1 against both Ivory Coast and Gabon and losing 2-0 to Egypt.
"Football is about scoring and winning matches and we did not do that, but I am proud of these boys for giving it their all. They really showed character; after all we did not spend much time together preparing for this tournament," said coach Shakes Mashaba.
"We wanted to win badly, but it was not to be, and if you saw the number of chances we got, you will agree that the problem remains a goal-scoring issue and this is an entire South African problem," he said.
"We let people down, but I would like to say I hope there will be a next time where we can do better."
The team was welcomed at the OR Tambo International Airport by SA Football Association (SAFA) president Kirsten Nematandani, vice president Mandla Mazibuko and CEO Robin Petersen.
"We had high hopes for this team as we felt this mission was achievable, but it was not to be. However, we are still proud of the boys as they gave a good account of themselves," said Nematandani.
"Bafana Bafana will not be at the 2012 AFCON, now the under-23 squad will not be in London. That calls for a serious introspection to look into where South African football is going," he said.
"We are planning to have a National Technical Conference where we are going to look deep into the challenges facing us. All the experts of the game will be present and we will also invite FIFA."
He said a high-powered South African delegation would meet CAF to engage it on aligning its calendar with the rest of the world.
The delegation would consist of Nematandani, Danny Jordaan, Irvin Khoza, Petersen and Mazibuko.
"We feel it's important that we have this gathering because every decision on fixtures that CAF makes impacts on us, and in most cases it impacts negatively, said Nematandani.
"We are hoping this meeting will alleviate some of the challenges we have in terms of preparing our teams, both at national team and club level," he said
Mazibuko thanked everyone for their support of the team, in particular Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula and the league for allowing some of the players to take part in the tournament, which did not fall under the FIFA calendar.