CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 19: Siphiwe Tshabalala of South Africa heads the ball during the 2014 African Nations Championship match between South Africa and Nigeria at Cape Town Stadium on January 19, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Shaun Roy/Gallo Images)

Johannesburg – Bafana Bafana midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala on Monday apologised to the nation for the host team’s early exit from the 2014 African Nations Championship tournament.

“We are very disappointed we lost to Nigeria. They had their chances and took them, we did our best in terms of creating scoring chances but their goalkeeper was one of the best players on the park and denied us numerous times,” Tshabalala said on Monday.

“Personally, I would like to apologise to the nation on behalf of the team for not going through. We did everything we could but it was not good enough on the day.”

South Africa lost 3-1 to Nigeria in their final Group A match played at the Cape Town Stadium on Sunday, after being outplayed and out-muscled by the Super Eagles, who needed nothing short of victory to proceed to the last eight of the tournament.

South Africa needed only a draw, but it was not to be, said Tshabalala, the most capped player in the current squad with 86 appearances for the country.

“It is very disappointing that we are out of the tournament being the hosts. We were hoping to advance to the quarter-finals and go all the way to the finals.

“We took the game to them, attacked them very well but they were solid. They got one move and they punished us, and then the penalty that killed us.

“We are not happy that we conceded three goals.”

Tshabalala said the players, just like the nation, were hurting.

“It is very sad that we find ourselves here, but we have to move on and be strong mentally. It is always disappointing when we don’t deliver especially with the nation rallying behind us,” the midfielder said.

“We cannot point fingers at anybody but we need to forge ahead, hopefully we will be a better team going forward.

“It is honestly hurting – we are hurting and we know the nation is also hurting, and we are not proud of not doing well but we just have to apply ourselves better in future.” – Sapa