Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund believes that his side's 1-1 draw against Mali in the second Group A match of the 2014 CHAN tournament at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday was a fair result.
Victory for the hosts would have almost certainly guaranteed progress to the quarterfinals but that result has now left the group wide open.
Striker Bernard Parker scored from the penalty in the first half to give South Africa the lead only to be cancelled by Mali in the second half. It was a wonderful strike by Adama Traore, which gave Bafana Bafana captain and goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune no chance.
"It was a very difficult game, both teams had their chances. It could have been nice to have scored two or more goals but it just didn't come because they defended very well. I have said before that they are a very difficult side to play against and at the end of the day the points shared is a fair result," said Igesund.
The Bafana Bafana mentor believes Mali's equaliser should have been better dealt with.
"The goal we conceded was soft one, we were not aggressive enough in the situation we should have dealt with the ball better but there was a bit of hesitation from my players and the guy struck the ball very well giving Khune no chance, but we should not have allowed that to happen - we could have cleared it but that's football for you," added Igesund.
"We now have to apply our minds for the Nigeria match, but we will go back to work and prepare well for that game. Every game we play, we play to win, even if we need a draw we will play to win it. This is a very tough group and all the matches haven't been easy. Our result puts pressure on everybody in the group because it is very close. I think people underestimated the quality in this competition and we certainly have to get a result against Nigeria."
Against Mali, Igesund made four changes to the line-up that started against Mozambique - Vuyo Mere, Lindokuhle Mbatha, Matthew Pattison and Edward Manqele coming in for Bryce Moon, Lerato Chabangu, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Katlego Mashego respectively.
"From the first whistle we knew it was going to be a battle and I think we matched them very well and got into good positions, especially on the right. (Lindokuhle) Mbatha was excellent as he gave them problems.
The pace of the game was high but in the second half we had some tired legs. We would have loved to get another goal but when you concede a goal it knocks the wind out of you a little bit but we coped well thereafter and I agree with the coach that it was a fair result. We would have surely loved to come away with a win to make things easier for us in the next match," said Pattison.
Bafana Bafana next face Nigeria in the final group stages match on Sunday, 19 January at the Cape Town Stadium.
This is how they lined up:
South Africa: Itumeleng Khune (c), Vuyo Mere, Thabo Nthethe, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thato Mokeke, Lindokuhle Mbatha, Hlompho Kekana, Matthew Pattison, Siphiwe Tshabalala (Lerato Chabangu 81st), Bernard Parker, Edward Manqele (Asavela Mbekile 55th)
Mali: Diakité, Samaké, Keita, Konaté, A Traoré, Doumbia, Samaké, Sissoko, Sidibé, M Traoré (Kone 86th), Lassana (Diawara 66th)