Johannesburg - Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday urged South Africans to support Bafana Bafana, no matter what, in their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign in Equatorial Guinea.
"We call on the nation to continue to support the team. Up to now the team has done so well and we shouldn't be discouraged," Mbalula said in Johannesburg.
Bafana lost their opening group encounter 3-1 to Algeria on Monday at the Estadio de Mongomo. The South Africans took the lead but a missed penalty and an own goal allowed Algeria back into the game.
Coach Shakes Mashaba's charges were criticised for losing the match after being in the driver's seat for a long period.
Mbalula said the public should be patient and learn to control their emotions.
"AFCON was part of a journey but not a final destination. The team is going through a configuration.
"Let's not say things and do things that will dampen the spirit of the team."
He said the nation ought to remember that this was the same team which was being lauded not so long ago.
"It can't be that when they win we are united, and when they lose they're on their own. We must equally be behind the team when they lose as well."
The team was being built for the future and the long term objectives were still on track, he said.
"If we go far, it will be a bonus. Our mission is to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
"Considering where we've come from, reaching AFCON itself was a great achievement."
Bafana would look to bounce back against Senegal on Friday and then play Ghana on Tuesday in their final group game.