South Africa’s men’s football team coach, Molefi Ntseki, has said they are “very much aware” of the “emotional pain” they have caused the country’s population by failing to qualify for the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.
“Not qualifying has dented our image, our possibilities,” he told BBC Sport Africa.
“As passionate South Africans, the expectation was for Bafana Bafana to qualify for Afcon – and maybe to do better than the last time. The disappointment goes to every South African.
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“As players, as coaches, we are very much aware of the emotional pain we have caused all South Africans.”
Bafana Bafana needed only a point away in Sudan to make it to the finals in Cameroon next year, but lost 2-0 – a result that put Sudan through at their expense.
South Africa were drawn in Group C in qualification, alongside Ghana, Sudan and Sao Tome.
With Sao Tome proving to be very weak – and thus almost guaranteeing the other three teams a minimum of six points – the group became an intense three-way battle.
Ntseki said that going into the final two fixtures – at home to Ghana and then away in Sudan, the team felt they were “almost there”.
But he said they had been hit by Covid restrictions that prevented some of South Africa’s best players flying out for the matches.