Cape Town - Shakes Mashaba praised a young Bafana Bafana for their resilience in Wednesday’s 2015 AFCON qualifier against Nigeria in Cape Town.
Facing the defending African champions, Bafana took the game to the Super Eagles and walked away with a credible draw to add to their 3-0 win over Sudan in their opening group A qualifier just five days prior.
“I’d like to say to our boys, because I know, South Africans never gave us a chance today. I know it very well,” Mashaba said after the game at Cape Town Stadium.
“Let us have confidence in these boys. Experience, I always say, is a name we give to our yesterday’s mistakes. We’re moving on today, let’s encourage these youngsters. The performance they put up today was unbelievable.”
A frantic 84th minute could have seen Bafana steal the lead as first Tokelo Rantie forced a save out of Nigerian keeper Austine Ejide, before a host of others, including Andile Jali and Themba Zwane, should have buried the ball in the back of the net. However, they were blocked by some desperate Super Eagles defence as a goalmouth scramble ensued.
“It was a game of nerves. Chances were created on both sides. It went in stanzas -- we had Nigeria getting the upper hand, we also came back then we had an upper hand. But, truly speaking, we should have sealed it in the last 10 minutes,” Mashaba said.
“Unfortunately lady luck was not smiling for us, but there are still a couple of things we need to rectify in the team as well.”
“We can be happy with this team that we’ve got positive results in our two opening matches. Anyone who asks more from what we got, I don’t know what that would be.
“We played one of the football superhouses -- it’s not a pushover. Both teams took the game to each other.
“So we thank the Nigerians and appreciate the point they delivered. It will help us in the long run as we keep going on.”
Looking back at the country’s opening couple of results, Mashaba said he was delighted with a tally of four points. It puts South Africa in second place in Group A, two points behind Congo-Brazzaville, who shocked Nigeria last weekend and beat Sudan on Wednesday.
The top two teams in each group qualify for the tournament in Morocco next year.