Mashaba lauds Bafana, regrets missed chances

Mashaba says Bafana showed a lot of character and determination despite missing a lot of chances.

FILE: Shakes Mashaba. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba praised his players for a good display of football that saw them hold their nemesis Nigeria to a 1-1 draw at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Sunday.

Both sides wore black armbands and observed a moment of silence before kick-off in memory of former legend Steve 'Kalamazoo' Mokone who passed was away on 20 March in the United States.

Bafana went a goal down following an Ahmed Musa strike, but Bongani Zungu scored late in the second half with two minutes of added time left on the clock.

Mashaba says his team showed a lot of character and determination despite missing a lot of chances.

"For us to score at that time showed a lot of character, a willingness to push for more. It showed a lot of courage from our boys. There was a real fighting spirit.

"During the Afcon we scored first, then conceded and it all went downhill from there. But in this game, they missed a penalty and dropped their heads a bit. Nigeria scored and our players picked themselves up again in search of an equaliser which eventually came."

This is the third time in a row that the two nations have failed to find a winner, the first two occasions was during the home and away leg of the 2015 Afcon qualifiers last year where it ended 0-0 and 2-2 in Cape Town and Uyo, Nigeria.

The teams have now met 12 times and South Africa has only won just once, back in 2004.

Mashaba made seven changes to the side that beat Swaziland mid-week and it brought dividends as they kept Nigeria at bay only for the home side to falter in front of goals.

"I'd like to say well done to our boys for their performance. It's just unfortunate we didn't win, but we should have walked away with this game as it was there for the taking.

"Nigeria were happy with a draw, you could see they were parked at the back not venturing forward."

South Africa could have taken the lead had midfielder Andile Jali not missed a penalty in the second half, and Mashaba believes that slightly took the wind out of the sails.

Mashaba says it's now becoming a concern that his players miss penalties at crucial times.

Jali's miss reminded many of the penalty miss by striker Tokelo Rantie in the opening match of the 2015 Afcon tournament with Bafana leading 1-0 only to go down 3-1.

"Going forward, we will now have a few players who work on penalties because if you get the whole team to do that when a penalty is given everyone looks the other way."