Johannesburg - Head coach Pitso Mosimane said his young side could be forgiven after South Africa went down 2-1 in an international friendly against Zimbabwe in Harare on Tuesday night.
"I am obviously disappointed with the result, but I believe the boys gave a good account of themselves," Mosimane said after the squad returned on Wednesday morning.
"Most of them haven't played together before in the national team."
Mosimane said Bafana Bafana's performance in their last game of the year had given him confidence ahead of the new season.
"I now know what we need to work on going forward," he said.
"It was a good exercise to test these players, to know what we have when [Steven] Pienaar, [Siphiwe] Tshabalala, [Katlego] Mphela and others are not here."
Bradley Grobler, on of two new caps in the team, which was missing most of its senior members, scored in the first half to give the visitors the early lead.
Former Kaizer Chiefs striker Knowledge Musona struck back with a brace in the second half as the hosts snatched victory, but Grobler was pleased with Bafana's performance.
"It was a dream come true for me to walk on the field to play for my country, and scoring a goal was the cherry on top," Grobler said.
"This is something I will cherish for a long time to come.
"Before the match the coach was encouraging us that we have to do our best, and I believe we did, despite losing to Zimbabwe."