A dejected Stuart Baxter said last night that despite his side’s dramatic 2-1 defeat to Nigeria in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) they have shown they can compete with the best on the continent.
An 89th-minute winner by center-back Troost-Ekong from a corner broke South African hearts and booked the three-time champions Nigeria’s spot in the semi-finals to face Algeria or Ivory Coast.
Baxter said in a chat with brila.net that although he couldn’t find positives in defeat after a tough loss his side had shown that they could compete with Africa’s best.
“We didn’t play our best in the first half, I didn’t think we were brave enough in our pressing, but we allowed Nigeria to grow into the game. We had some good moments but in general, we needed to change something”.
“We changed it at half time, we were more organized, more dangerous, great combination play. We get back to 1-1 and then last minute of the game, it’s tough to take”.
“The team worked as hard as they could and this is part of a process. We haven’t been to the AFCON for a long time and then we come and play some of the best teams in the tournament, on the continent and we show that we can play some of the best teams in the continent”.
“That should give us motivation, and I hope the people back home will know this and continue to support the team”.