Bafana Bafana defender Siyanda Xulu lamented their lapses of concentration in the 2-0 defeat to Mali but emphasised their confidence in bouncing back remains infallible.
South Africa are under pressure to make a statement on Sunday against Namibia after losing their opening game 2-0 against Mali at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium as the Brave Warriors made history with a 1-0 win over Tunisia at the same venue.
Xulu admits there was a bit of complacency after a strong first half showing against the West Africans – who enjoyed the bulk of the supporters in a electrfying atmosphere in Khorogo, some 600 kilometers from their capital city, Bamako.
“It wasn’t as easy as we thought it might be, concentration wise it’s always a factor when you play a massive country like Mali, it wasn’t easy at any given stage, but we did [in the first half] what we prepared for, which was keeping the ball and trying to ask questions [of Mali] and trying to convert chances we created,” Xulu told iDiski Times in the mixed zone.
“I think most of the [duels] they won because they are a very physical side but it’s something we knew [was coming], we can’t try and compete physically with them, so we tried to play the ball as quickly as we can, the strengths that we have as a country.
“We wanted to compete with them – we just last the most important [duels] that went on to be the chances they took.”
With six points still to play for as they face Tunisia in their final Group E game next week after their Cosafa rivals on Sunday – Xulu says the lessons learnt on Tuesday evening can potentially propel them for their main objective.
“It’s not going to be easy, we failed to secure the result in the opening game and now it’s up to us to try and get results in the remaining two games. We’re disappointed, we showed we wanted to win against a great side. So going into the next games, we need to take these chances we can create.
“It’s possible [to advance to the knockout stages] it’s just about taking the first-half performances into the second half, if we manage to do that anything is possible.”
Siyanda Xulu believes that Bafana Bafana can do better in the next game against Namibia which is a must win game since they have now learnt from their mistakes as a team.