Cape Town - The President of the South African Football Association (SAFA) Danny Jordaan has lauded Bafana Bafana’s performance against a determined Zambia in the first-leg of the third and last round of the 2018 CHAN qualifiers.
South Africa and Zambia played to a 2-2 draw after Stuart Baxter’s charges had a taken a 2-0 lead on Saturday, August 12. The clash took place at the Buffalo City Stadium in East London.
Jordaan said despite giving away the lead, the players have something to be proud of.
"You must be proud of your incredible performance, and I hope you have proved to yourself that you can match them,” said Jordaan as quoted by the official SAFA website.
"This is a Zambian team that excludes foreign players, but that was their best team. I hope you have convinced yourself that you can compete at this level, but you must compete and concentrate until the referee says it’s over.
"You must carry in your heart that you have given a performance that makes us all happy. All of you gave the best you could on the day, and you must feel proud of your efforts.
"That’s what we need, not just in this team but in all our national teams - that when you walk onto that field you only give your best."
Jordaan said Chipolopolo was lucky to escape with a draw after striker Gift Motupa and defender Mario Booysen had given the home side the lead.
"I am proud of you and thank you for the effort, you surprised yourself because many believed that you didn’t stand a chance, but in the end it was Zambia who were lucky to walk away with a draw, not you," Jordaan continued.
"You deserved to take all three points, and this is football, it’s the effort on the day that counts - it’s not about what happened before or what will happen after but what took place on the day.
"I want thank the head coach and everyone in the team because this was an experiment that started some time ago - even though there were challenges because every time there is this player coming and that one not able to make it.
"The performance is the credit to what you have done, because with the team that you had, after that more players went on to play for their clubs - so you produced players and suddenly the clubs realise they want to sign those players. But the challenge we have is that the next thing clubs don’t want to release them to the national team, and it is a problem we have to address in this country."
Jordaan also cautioned the players not to rest on their laurels just because they are in the national team as there is more they can do.
"The point is when your country calls you must give the best you can, and today we saw the example of that, and that is all we ask. The fans are very happy and so are we. But you must work harder because you cannot be a second-string player, you must be a Bafana Bafana player and that is the challenge - be the best you can. With this kind of performance, you can. Thanks to Stuart even though I know it was difficult with so many withdrawals but I think we must give him credit for what he has done with these boys,” concluded Jordaan.
Bafana Bafana travel to Zambia on Thursday, August 17 to face Chipolopolo in the second-leg of the competition.
The match will be staged at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
Kickoff is at 15:00 (SA time).