Santana Satisfied With Bafana's Showing
29 June 2009
Bafana Bafana coach Joel Natalino Santana says he is satisfied with South Africa's showing in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, this despite his side finishing fourth in the competition after losing to Spain 2-3 in the third place play-off. The match took place at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Sunday (28 June).
Watched by the deputy president of South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe and FIFA President Sepp Blatter, Bafana Bafana took the lead in the latter half of the second half through substitute Katlego Mphela, but failed to hold on as Spain equalised just three minutes before full time.
Spain then took the lead two minutes later to silence the huge crowd that had turned up to support South Africa. Mphela restored parity with a thunderous free kick that gave Spain goal minder Iker Casillas no chance.
In extra-time La Roja also had a free-kick which Itumeleng Khune in South Africa's goals could not stop, which gave Spain victory.âWe competed very well today; we can count ourselves as equals after this performance as anyone could have won the match. We had a good tournament, a positive experience and we will have to prepare better for the World Cup so we can also improve,â said Santana.
Bafana Bafana have been in camp since May 13 this year preparing for the tournament, and the coach believes they have achieved, âwe are a lot calmer now than when we started the tournament, we are more confident and our performance has improved greatly because we had a chance to face Spain twice, the number one team in the FIFA ranking as well as five-time world champions Brazil,â said the Brazilian.
But he was quick to point out that lack of experience was the cause of his side's downfall, âwe should have kept the ball more after taking the lead, but it will come with time, it will be better in future but I am satisfied with the performance of this team which has come a long way. The performance has given us a promising future now we have a lot of expectations,â he said.
Santana has also hinted that two-goal hero Mphela could be South Africa's answer upfront. After struggling for a proven goal-scorer with the absence of Benni McCarthy, Santana believes he has found the solution, âwe entered this competition trying to give an opportunity to our centre forwards to play, we started with (Thembinkosi) Fanteni, and then (Katlego) Mashego got a chance. Today we surprised everyone by using Mphela who played exceptionally well and added value for us. He is a good centre forward who finishes well and I think he will be our centre forward going to the World Cup but will start in the up-coming friendlies,â said Santana gleefully.
Meanwhile Brazil successfully defended their title when they were crowned champions of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. Brazil came back from two goals down to beat a determined USA 3-2.
Brazilian forward Kaka was named Player of the Tournament while his teammate Luis Fabiano was the top goal scorer.