Johannesburg - South African cricket fans will be helping the opposition every time they call the Proteas "chokers", coach Corrie van Zyl said on Sunday.
While Van Zyl was quick to apologise to all the fans who had given his team "magnificent support", he added that the "chokers" tag had become a very powerful weapon in the hands of the opposition.
"It's important that everyone in South Africa sees the extra burden that is put on their team. The opposition see every opportunity to use the word 'chokers' on and off the field for one reason: to get at us mentally.
"But when our own fans keep reminding us of the past, it doesn't provide motivation, it just brings extra pressure. We need to deal with this in a different way as a nation, we need to stick together.
"The pressure all starts building up, the players always get reminded of the past. Most of this squad were not part of the previous World Cup defeats, but the people make them a part of it," Van Zyl complained.
The coach also defended the selection of the squad, saying it was very well suited to sub-continental conditions.
"I don't think we needed anyone else apart from the 15 players we had there. For those conditions, it was the right 15, without question, and it was proven right through the World Cup. We played some seriously good cricket, barring 10 overs on Friday night. In hindsight, I would have prepared the same way and had the same personnel," Van Zyl said.
Sports minister Fikile Mbalula spoke at the same news conference at O.R. Tambo International Airport and was quick to say the Proteas still had his support.
"We are all aware of the sad misfortune that happened, New Zealand were just the better side on the day. But it was a splendid and magnificent performance before that and they made us proud. I salute them for their gallant fight, they beat the West Indies, and India and Bangladesh in their own backyards.
"I urge the nation to be positive because, win or lose, it's how they played the game that is important," Mbalula said.
The sports minister added that his department would be meeting with Cricket South Africa in the first week of April to discuss a "well-researched review of the tournament".
South Africa, chasing 222, were cruising to victory on 108 for two with Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers well-set at the crease, but they fell to a great catch by eventual man of the match Jacob Oram and a run out respectively, and the middle-order were then unable to see the Proteas home.
""Pressure is obviously a major thing in the World Cup and in the knockout rounds especially because you know it's your last opportunity. It's important to keep your composure and we weren't able to do that. Maybe it was the burden of previous generations that caused us to lose composure," Van Zyl said.
The battle-hardened fast bowler is not the type to believe in lucky fountains or such like, but Van Zyl said he believed the current team could still win a World Cup.
"There's a new team culture, they're definitely taking a new direction and there's no question they will be number one in the future and they will still win the World Cup if we all work together.
"There's a lot of talent in the team, it's important to keep it together, and all that experience and the lessons they have learnt should stand them in good stead. They want to leave a legacy," Van Zyl said.
The Free Stater will now retreat to a role more removed from the limelight as he returns to his position as the head of the high performance programme. According to team manager Mohammed Moosajee, Cricket South Africa will be meeting over the next fortnight to consider the applications for the new coach.
Having enjoyed an excellent run as coach - including drawing with India away from home and thrashing the West Indies - Van Zyl is in an outstanding position to judge what qualities his successor will require.
"I don't think it's too much of an issue whether he's from overseas or South African, we just need the best guy. He will know what he has to work with and man-management and discipline will be two extremely important qualities he'll need.
"At international level, there's always a balance between man-management and discipline. You need to create a culture of discipline rather than be a disciplinarian.
"Cricketing skills and strategy are obviously also important and the new coach needs to be able to rub off his vision of where he wants to take the side on to the team," Van Zyl said.