Santana: We have learnt a lot
Danny of Portugal holds off Teko Modise of SA (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana head coach Joel Santana conceded that his side learnt a hard lesson when they were beaten 2-0 by classy Portugal in a friendly international played at the Stade Olympique in Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday night.
Said Santana: "We have learnt a lot and gained much valuable experience from playing such a quality side such as Portugal. The experienced gained will be of tremendous help as we get closer to the Confederations Cup and the World Cup finals." Bafana kick-off the Confederations Cup when they host Asian champions Iraq at Ellis Park on June 14.
Santana also admitted that both goals scored from corners by Bruno Alves in the fourth minute and debutant striker Edinho were due to a lack of concentration. However, the first goal was a bad error from goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune who came for Chelsea star Deco’s corner but missed the ball and defender Alves was able to head into an empty net.
Said Santana: "The defence was at fault as they were not concentrating as they should have been. But again that is what we are here for to learn and gain this sort of experience."
Portugal were rarely troubled by a Bafana side that struggled to match their more skilful opponents ranked 10th in the world as against Bafana’s 72ndworld ranking by Fifa.
Santana is hoping to stage two more friendly matches before Bafana meet Poland in their final warm-up game at Orlando Stadium on June 6 ahead of their date with Iraq.
Said the Bafana coach: "I would like to play two more games before Poland, one would be for South African based players only to give players another chance to impress." However, despite the loss Santana promised the public that he was confident Bafana would have a successful Confederations Cup and would get at least past the group stages of the World Cup next year.
Said the optimistic head coach: "I believe we are getting better and learning a lot with every game we play. I predict we will have a good Confederations Cup and be strong enough to get past the first round (group stage) of the World Cup."
He also said that the change in climate had affected his players. Bafana defeated Norway 2-1 in 30 degree heat at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium outside Rustenburg on Saturday and four days later played against Portugal in freezing four degree cold.
Said Santana: "I do not want to look for excuses but playing in two extreme weather conditions did have an effect on the players who had little time to adjust to the cold."
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