Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana's departure from the Africa Cup of Nations should not be an opportunity for sadness but one of reflection, Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula said on Tuesday.
As it happened: Bafana bow out of AFCON
"The journey to AFCON is filled with memories of great individual and collective prowess," he said in a statement.
"Like in any journey one takes you gain or lose, you make honest reflections, build on and consolidate for the future.
The South African were sent crashing out of the Africa Cup of Nations after relinquishing a one-goal lead for a third match in a row, against Ghana in Mongomo on Tuesday night, losing 2-1.
Mandla Masango had sent Bafana Bafana into the lead after 17 minutes with a wonder-strike from the edge of the area in Equatorial Guinea, but John Boye's equaliser on 73 minutes was all it took to condemn the South Africans to bottom of Group C.
Mbalula said the tournament was a learning experience for the team. "Winning AFCON was never an end goal for us, we saw it as a journey and we expected to see a fearless and courageous team."
"Our boys demonstrated such and this was proven on the sterling record our team and its coach Shakes (Mashaba) had in their qualifier matches to Equatorial Guinea."
He said that Mashaba's appointment to head the team was the best decision that the SA Football Association (SAFA) had made.
"We need a cool headed coach like him who is not moved by populism but by vision and strategy."
Mbalulu said he was satisfied with the national team's performance and that the country should "exercise patience, criticise with aim to build not to destroy and continue showing the team our support."