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We deserved better

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It's sad that we lost the match against Morocco in that manner, more than anything we deserved more than what we got in this tournament - Hlompho Kekana

DEFLATED: Thamsanqa Mkhize of Bafana Bafana reflects on what might have been after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group D match against Morocco at Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo on Monday. Picture: EPA-EFE Khaled Effiqi

Hlompho Kekana, a captain at his club Mamelodi Sundowns, tried his best to not throw his teammates under the bus after a disappointing campaign for Bafana Bafana at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The statistics might say two losses (to Ivory Coast and Morocco) and one win (against Namibia) but the real story is far bleaker than that.

Bafana were shocking, finishing two matches without a single shot on target. What was more alarming was that the team couldn’t produce a single shot on target in a match where they needed something to reach the last 16.

A win or a point from their clash with Morocco would have seen Bafana avoid spending a stressful day yesterday, hoping that other countries do them a favour so that they could reach the knockout stage. So one would have expected that they would have thrown everything at the Atlas Lions, but they didn’t.

They played it safe and looked like they were only looking to contain Morocco.

Kekana was diplomatic in his assessment of the team.

“It’s sad that we lost the match against Morocco in that manner, more than anything we deserved more than what we got in this tournament,” Kekana said. “It was just unfortunate that we conceded in the 90th minute whereas I think that we deserved much better than what we got. We were sad after the hard work we put in.

“It’s always sad for the players. I feel sorry for them, we put in the work to get here.”

However, Bafana didn’t do anything that showed they deserved something from their clash with Morocco, let alone a place in the last 16. They were woeful in their attack and the midfield hardly created good scoring chances. Bafana struggled to even put together passes.

“I wouldn’t say much, more than anything we needed to be clinical in front of goals and try to be free that we can score. I think that we lacked belief.

“But more than anything, we deserve better,” Kekana said in his assessment of the team’s attack.

Even though Kekana has suffered disappointment at the hands of north African teams before, his team however has gone down swinging. Orlando Pirates first showed the antidote for South African teams on how to beat north African giants, taking the game to them and not being intimidate by their star players.

None of that was on show in Bafana’s loss on Monday.

“They know how to manage the game very well, more than anything they know how to take their chances. You can see the chance they scored from, it’s not really an open chance but they managed to score. You have to give them credit for that,” Kekana said.

Kekana was, however, honest in admitting that Bafana didn’t put up a strong enough performance in Egypt

“I would say that. We were just unfortunate that we didn’t win the first match,” Kekana said.

“We played well against the Namibians. The match against the Moroccans, you could see that it was 50-50 at times.”