Bafana Bafana star Bongani Zungu has rued the defeat that saw the national team bow out at the hands of Nigeria on Wednesday evening.
South Africa went into their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) quarter-final against Nigeria full of optimism after their shock win over Egypt, but after levelling matters in the second half courtesy of a header from Bongani Zungu, Nigeria capitalised on a keeping mistake to steal victory at the death.
Nonetheless, Zungu scored his second goal of the tournament after VAR had to be consulted for the equaliser.
“First of all, a very disappointing result for us,” Zungu told SuperSportTV.
“First half we gave them a lot of respect. Second half, the coach told us to press them high and I think we did quite good and we were moving the ball well.
“I felt like we were going to score, and when we scored the goal we were in the game, but unfortunately, we lost concentration in the end.
“It’s very disappointing, we are sad, but I am very proud of the team. We fought hard, we didn’t start the tournament good, but we should have won this one. But it’s part of the game.
After Bafana was lauded for their performance in the Round of 16, they were tame upfront against Nigeria as they failed to threaten Daniel Akpeyi in goal.
“We had a good game plan, but I feel in the first half we gave them a lot of respect, we had to press them high, so their centre backs do not play the diagonal ball to Musa and the other winger, but as I said in the second half we did well,” he explained.
“We got back to the game, we moved the ball well. We closed them down, we put them under pressure, but we just lost concentration. I think that’s where the game was [decided]. We have to now go back to the drawing board. It’s very disappointing."
While defeat was hard to soak for the Amiens-based midfielder, Zungu remains optimistic that the current generation of Bafana players are headed in the right direction.
“Personally, I am grateful because I came from a very long injury [layoff]. I’m grateful that the coach called me to the squad when a lot of people were questioning it, and I feel I did my best,” he said.
“I feel the whole team did our best. We didn’t start the tournament good and it also didn’t end good.
“We’ve got a very good team, with some very good young players. The future is bright for Bafana Bafana. We look forward to more competitions and hopefully we will grow from this,” the former Mamelodi Sundowns player concluded.