Reneilwe Letsholonyane’s red card contributed to the draw between Bafana Bafana and Nigeria in their game in Uyo on Wednesday evening, according to Shakes Mashaba, the head coach of the South African national team.
The Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana midfielder was sent off in the second of the game, after picking up a second yellow card with the score 2-1 to the visitors at the time.
With Bafana playing with one man down, the Super Eagles scored their second goal late in the game and forced a 2-2 draw in the end, although they failed to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
“Everybody wants the points and it would have been good if we had won this game with a good number of points at the top of the group. But unfortunately we didn’t do that, we lost the game in the last five minutes – referee’s optional time, which is what worries me, we need to go back and work on it.
"But our boys did very well, this Nigeria team is a very good side as you saw by their tactical awareness and their match intelligence was from the top drawer, but our boys stood firm.
"The red card also disorganised us. You could have seen in the second half that we lost shape. We found ourselves crowding the goal area, though it helped at times but we should have taken the game to them after the red card because we had two breaks and should have scored at least one.
"Anyway that is how the game goes. We played strong teams in this group, so it says the boys are ready for Equatorial Guinea,” said Mashaba in a statement.
Mashaba has emphasised the importance of building a strong Bafana side for generations to come.
“When we started the qualifiers there was no mandate but we were asked to build a new side. In life, in whatever you do, you want to succeed. Mandate or no mandate, I would not like to see us building a good side and losing all the games. We have surpassed ourselves (all South Africans) to be where we are today because when it was announced that there is no mandate for AFCON 2015, everyone thought we were going to relax.
"I must compliment the boys, they played above themselves. I would not want to write a negative legacy for myself. If we didn’t have to win games then our successors would have no pressure and no targets.
"So it was important for us to get here for future generations to know what South African football is all about. Everybody wants to leave a mark and I am no different. I must also thank the South African Football Association for all the support given to the team,” explained Mashaba.