Shakes Mashaba is refusing to press the panic button ahead of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Challenge clash with Senegal, despite the weekend’s reversal at the hands of Mauritania.
South Africa remain winless and bottom in their Africa Cup of Nations qualification pool after Saturday’s surprising 3-1 defeat to Group M rivals Mauritania in Nouakchott.
Mashaba’s men face Senegal, Costa Rica and Honduras in friendlies and take on Angola in a World Cup qualification play-off before returning focus to the AFCON campaign in 2016.
Amid strong criticism from sections of the South African media, Mashaba urged the country to keep faith in their side.
“This was a must-win for us but all is not lost,” he explained after Saturday’s defeat.
“We have four matches to play, but we are just putting more pressure on ourselves. We have to snatch the maximum, which is 12 [points]. We still have a good chance [to qualify].
“I agree when you say it’s disappointing. We did not play well. We did not play the way people would have expected us to play. I wouldn’t blame the boys.
“They burnt themselves out trying to win the game. We conceded silly goals because I think fatigue started taking its toll.
“We were hit by injuries. Our defenders were injured and we had a red card.”
Injuries to Eric Mathoho (shoulder), Rivaldo Coetzee (ankle), Anele Ngcongca (concussion) and Thamsanqa Gabuza (knee) added to a difficult day for South Africa, but, in contrast, Aliou Cisse’s strong start as Senegal boss continued with victory over Namibia.
That result kept them top of Group K in qualifying, with Cisse having won all five matches since his appointment in March.
“We will continue to work with humility,” added the former Senegal international, who could make changes for Tuesday’s clash in Orlando.
“The players that are on the bench are not just to be there. They must be ready to replace a teammate who is not ready for this game.
“I just arrived with this team and I am working to have the best team possible. But a team can not just be imposed, it takes time for the work to pay off.”
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