Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund has saluted his charges despite bowing out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers following a 2-1 loss to Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on Sunday.
South Africa fought gallantly in front of a packed National Stadium but could not overcome a determined home side.
Bafana Bafana’s goal came from Bernard Parker, who unfortunately also scored an own goal to give the home side the lead. Getaneh Kebede had equalised for Ethiopia.
“The dream is over for us as far as 2014 Brazil is concerned. Now we have to regroup and see what lies ahead of us. My mandate was to qualify the team for the World Cup and I didn’t do that, so I will have to wait and see what will happen as it is no longer in my hands. It was a difficult assignment from the beginning having lost some crucial points in the early stages of the qualifiers but I agreed to the challenge because I believed we could make it, sadly it was not to be,” said Igesund.
The Bafana mentor admitted he was disappointed with the end result of the Addis Ababa encounter.
“You can see from the attitude and commitment of the players that we really wanted to win this match. We threw everything at them. We managed to score but our own errors cost us the game. It is one of those things that happen in football.
“We worked so hard in the last year to get to where we are. We have made huge strides. It is just unfortunate that we found ourselves in a position where we had to win this game. I am pleased with the effort of every single player, they gave their all. We did everything that we could possibly do. I told the players to walk with their heads high because it was a fantastic performance away from home,” added Igesund.
His sentiments were echoed by captain Itumeleng Khune.
“We are very disappointed with the result, but I believe we gave a very good account of ourselves. We are proud of the display we put out in this match. We did everything we could but unfortunately things didn’t go our way. You can see the way we were playing that we really wanted to go to Brazil, but we have missed out,” said Khune.
With five points ahead in Group A, the result means Ethiopia has qualified for the play-offs which will determine which five teams represent Africa in Brazil next year. Bafana Bafana will face Botswana in their last match of the qualifiers, while Ethiopia will face the Central African Republic (CAR) in September.