Santana optimistic about the future despite losses

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
By: 
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - Despite severe criticism and eight successive defeats, Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana is optimistic about the future of his squad.

The latest defeat was on Tuesday in Reykjavik, Iceland when Viegar Pall Gunnarsson scored the only goal in the 50th minute.

"Obviously I am not happy with the losses, but it was a good outing for the side. It was important for my players to experience the rigours of international football as it will build their character. I am happy that I gave some players a chance away from home, and they did not disappoint."

The Brazilian claims to have made some observations on the tour. "The last match was better than the first one, the marking and shooting was better, but sometimes we need to use our pace more when attacking, and also we should not give our opponents space."

Captain Aaron Mokoena said despite the losses, the nation should not lose hope. "We came on this trip with uncapped players who got a run and in the process they did not disappoint.

"Yes we are still not happy that we are not getting positive results, but on the other hand we have blended in some players and now it's up to the coach to finalise his world cup squad."

Bloemfontein Celtic captain Thabo Nthethe as well as Franklin Cale of Ajax Cape Town both made their debut on this tour.

Cale was first capped in the match against Norway when he came on for Siphiwe Tshabalala, while Nthethe replaced Siboniso Gaxa in the clash against Iceland.

Bafana Bafana is left with two matches before the end of the year. They face Japan on 14 November and Jamaica three days later in Bloemfontein.

"Both matches will be difficult especially Japan which is the stronger of the two, but I need to win, I will go there for a win," said the Brazilian coach who is under pressure.

Bafana Bafana will return from Europe on Thursday.