This was the fourth time since 2010 that SA have failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations finals, following 2010, 2012 and 2017
Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki says the national team coaches and players are very much aware of the disappointment they have caused South Africans.
Ntseki was commenting after Bafana Bafana’s 2-0 loss away in Sudan on Sunday night saw them missing out on playing in next year’s Afcon finals – instead it will be Sudan and Ghana who go to Cameroon.
Having needed just a point from the Sudan game to qualify, meant that South Africa’s elimination was all the more painful.
It’s a big disappointment for all of us. If you look at how we started, we were very positive and looking forward to qualifying,” Ntseki said.
“If you look at the games we won, we became very confident to qualify. The expectations were created to say the team will do well against Ghana at home and against Sudan away.”
The coach pointed to the quick turn-around time between the Ghana match in Soweto on Thursday and Sunday’s game away in northeast Africa as a contributing factor.
“Drawing against Ghana made life very difficult for us coming in Sudan. We knew it would be a foreign land with foreign challenges,” he said.
“The travelling also, having to travel immediately after the game, one session preparation and then we play a match. The players tried very hard and we also tried very hard to put everything together with the analysis of Sudan and our own analysis against Ghana.”
Conceding as early as the fifth minute really set Bafana back, and the failure to take some good chances also proved costly.
“We started on the wrong foot because we conceded very early,” Ntseki said.
“The idea was not to concede because we were fully aware that even before the game started we were in, because of the point that we had in our bag.
“Missing chances does not win you games. In the second half we approached the game differently, we made tactical changes and changes in terms of playing personnel.
“But on the day we could not get the goal and could not see ourselves getting an equaliser.”
The national team coach says he understands full well the impact of Sunday’s defeat.
“The disappointment is not only for us, but the big disappointment is for the South African Football Association. Because as Safa the mandate is very clear, to see the team qualifying for every continental and world tournament,” Ntseki conceded.
“So that we can put Bafana Bafana on the map again in terms of the type of football we play and the results we get.
“Not qualifying has dented our image, it has dented our possibilities of improving our rankings.
“As players, as coaches, we are very much aware of the disappointment and emotional pain which we have caused all South Africans.
“And also being aware the pain is more for us, because we were almost there in Cameroon, because of the points that we have accumulated along the road.”