The hosts showed they could compete with the best in the world, South African goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs tells The Africa Report.
Moeneeb Josephs was thrust into the World Cup limelight at the worst possible moment. The goalkeeper was brought on to replace Itumeleng Khune in Bafana Bafana’s group match against Uruguay after Khune’s desperate lunge at striker Luis Suarez earned him a red card.
Josephs, whose career has taken him from Ajax Cape Town, to Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates, could not stop the ensuing penalty. He was later beaten again by Alvaro Pereria’s header as Uruguay went on to beat South Africa 3-0.
“We fell short of what we could have achieved. We let it go in the second match and couldn’t deliver what our country asked of us. We have so much talent and so much ability but couldn’t deliver when it mattered,” Josephs toldThe Africa Report.
Josephs bounced back in the next match against France and performed heroically in South Africa’s only win of the tournament, a 2-1 victory that sent the country into euphoric celebrations even though it wasn’t enough to take the team into the second round.
South Africa’s World Cup chances were effectively ended by the loss to Uruguay. After the optimism of a reasonable 1-1 result in their opening match against Mexico, the country’s expectations were dashed by the poor performance and collapse of the home team.
“We played badly and I think we were affected by the pressure of the expectations of the public. After we drew our first match we felt we needed to win and this made us nervous going into our second match. We also concentrated on Diego Forlan but forgot about the other quality players in their team and they punished us for this,” said Josephs.
With the World Cup dream over in the first round and South Africa now holding the unenviable record of becoming the first host team to go out of the tournament in the first round, does Josephs feel that the team did enough to make the country proud or did they let down the nation?
“Even though we didn’t make the second round and came short, I think we made the country proud. We showed that we can compete with the best with the draw against Mexico and the win over France. Now we have to take it from where we left off and build for the future.
“I’m optimistic that we have laid the foundation for a very good future for South African football,” said Josephs.
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