Bafana Bafana forward Sibusiso Vilakazi has defended against criticism of the team’s performance in their opening African Cup of Nations Group D clash against Ivory Coast.
The South African national team got their 2019 Afcon campaign off to a losing start after suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat to the Elephants at the Al-Salam Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Stuart Baxter’s side will be hoping to redeem themselves when they take on Namibia in their second Group D fixture before ending their group stage game against Morocco on 1 July.
Vilakazi, who came on as a second-half substitute to replace Mamelodi Sundowns teammate Lebohang Maboe, insists that the game was tight but admits that Bafana struggled to penetrate their defence to create enough clear-cut chances in the final third.
‘I think the game was pretty tight, to be honest. I think they pressed us more in terms of their defensive block between their midfielders and strikers,’ Vila told reporters in Cairo.
‘So, we couldn’t find those penetrations to create chances easily for ourselves. We didn’t stretch the pitch enough when going forward or play those balls behind [their defence].
‘A key point is that looking from the outside is much easier than inside. Where, maybe you could see from the outside that a player could have made a pass from there, but the angle from the inside wouldn’t give you an option to a pass.
‘I always say thought, once you look from the outside it’s very clear and very easy, you could say there was so many options.
‘But, once you’re inside, it’s very difficult and sometimes maybe not so difficult. There are times where what you see, I can’t see inside.’
South Africa currently find themselves sitting at the foot of Group D and Vilakazi has stressed the importance of winning their remaining games in the group in order to qualify for the next round of the tournament.
‘Every game when you enter a tournament is a must-win, doesn’t matter which game is it – even against Ivory Coast was a must-win,’ he added.
‘There’s always going to be that pressure to win, so I think even now we don’t need to change anything. It’s all in the mind, we just need to respond.
‘I think the boys will definitely respond. It’s going to be a better performance from the boys and it’s going to be a better result.’
Bafana Bafana against Namibia kicks off at 10pm.
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