South African players stand dejected after their late loss to Morocco . Photo: Ariel Schalit/AP Photo

CAIRO – Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter refused to criticise his players after a late goal resulted in a 1-0 defeat to Morocco in the final game in Group D of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Monday.

Baxter instead pointed to a lapse of concentration, but the SA national football side’s qualification to the knockout stage of the competition nevertheless hangs in the balance as they await results from Tuesday’s games.

With the match against Morocco headed for what could have been a credible draw, Mubarak Boussoufa sneaked into the box to stab the ball home from close range.

“I think the players played well in terms of their distances, in terms of their pressing and defending process,” said Baxter.

“We also had situations, but we could have played better in the last third. There are many ways to win a football game, but losing in the last 30 seconds of the game from a set play, I think it is a disappointing way to lose a game.

“I don’t think it is the time for me to question players, it is time to accept that this is the result we didn’t want.”

The coach said that, once the dust had settled, the team will do a sober analysis of the performance.

“It is very easy for the coach in your disappointment of the result to say things immediately after the game that you can’t back up with facts.

“I told them (players) we would look into this game when we have all calmed down, when we are realistic and can evaluate what we could have done better.

“I think the players were disciplined and it is unfortunate that we conceded a goal in the very last minute.

“I thought the opposition played better in the second half, their ball retention was better, their balance was better.

“I thought we dealt quite well with it, but they are a strong team and they will be one of the top teams in the tournament.”

The final teams to qualify for the knockout stage will be determined after Tuesday’s last group of matches.

African News Agency (ANA)