Despite Bafana Bafana missing a whole host of chances and scoring an equaliser in the last minute, coach Stuart Baxter was satisfied with the effort against Paraguay on Tuesday night.
The South Africans had Percy Tau to thank for the equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time to secure a 1-1 draw and a share of the Nelson Mandela Challenge trophy at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
The Bafana defensive line in particular battled to cope with the physicality and movement of the Paraguayan front-line, were Cecilio Dominguez and Federico Santander caused them problems.
The duo was involved in the goal scored by Santander in the 32nd minute, and it looked like Bafana were going to be on the losing side.
But Tau finished off a sparkling move that saw Thulani Serero provide a defence-splitting pass.
“I don’t think we are used to playing against a team that shows that much aggression. I think they were very ready for this game. It was like going to school for a lot of our players,” Baxter told SuperSport in a post-match interview.
“When we learnt and when we moved the ball quickly, and when we got into the right spaces and attacked them with our game, we gave them problems as well.
“I said to the players before we ran out that, if this was going to be preparation for Libya, then we’ve got to be difficult to beat.
“If we keep going and make sure we learn from our mistakes, and never give up, that’s the first step to be being difficult to beat.
“And I must say that, the boys kept on going, and we were really unlucky to score earlier. I know they had their chances, but with a bit of luck, we could’ve scored earlier.”
Former @BafanaBafana coach Pitso Mosimane visited the team after the 1-1 draw with Paraguay in Durban where he urged all clubs to help the Senior Men's National team qualify for Cameroon by giving them the support and cooperation pic.twitter.com/1CorFfVvKX— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) November 21, 2018
The big goal, of course, is qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, with Bafana needing a point from their last group match against Libya away next March.
And Tau will be the focal point of the South African attack, after netting his seventh goal in 17 internationals on Tuesday.
“I think the combination between Percy and Lebo (Mothiba) looks very interesting. Percy has been on fire in the last two games. When he first went to Belgium, it took him a little bit of time to clear his head,” Baxter said.
“And for a patch, he looked doubtful. But the clouds have cleared now, and we are seeing sunshine.”
Bafana Bafana & Paraguay played to a 1-1 draw in the Nelson Mandela Challenge match at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday pic.twitter.com/Jh5tMUOQ7y— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) November 21, 2018