“The dressing room was sad, we were very disappointed because in all honesty that was a game we were supposed to win and by a big margin. We let the coach down, we let ourselves down and the country down but it is important for us to forget about the game as soon as we can so we can focus on the challenge ahead.
“The lesson we got out of this match is that we have to take our chances, because if we miss them we will be putting ourselves under pressure. We could have wrapped that game early,” said Phala who scored South Africa’s solitary goal in that match.
“We all come from teams who have lost games before; we have all been in a hole before. We came together as players and spoke about it. We keep motivating ourselves because we know we are a good team and we will come back strongly in the remaining two games.
“Senegal has big boys who play overseas and they play good football. They beat Ghana which shows they are no pushovers. We knew coming to this tournament that all our first three games are going to be difficult. So against Senegal we must just go there and take our chances and win that game,” added Phala.
“They are more physical, taller and they will have an advantage in set-pieces, but at the same time they are slower than us which is where we have an advantage. We outpaced the Algerians especially in the second half. We have a way of playing around their physical strength because we have the agility.”
Phala says the players have rallied behind striker Tokelo Rantie who missed a penalty in the match.
“We went to him and told him to hold his head high; we told him that these things happen. We have seen players miss penalties in the World Cup tournament but bounced back. Tokelo is a great player and has a good character; he is needed for upcoming games. Hopefully his confidence will be back and he will score goals for us,” said Phala.
His sentiments were echoed by assistant coach Thabo Senong.
“We have our penalty takers, free kick takers and cornerkick takers – for penalties we have Oupa (Manyisa), Andile (Jali) and (Tokelo) Rantie as well as (Bernard) Parker and anyone of them can take it. Rantie got a chance and we all believed and hoped he would get a goal, it was just unfortunate for him but we believe he is still going to score a lot of goals for us. That is football, it is just one of those things where the player that you rely on doesn’t get a goal but going into the next match it will be a different ball game altogether,” said Senong.
The Bafana Bafana assistant is also confident about the match against Senegal.
“We still believe we will get the needed result to go through to the next round. We are looking forward to getting three points against Senegal, but I must add that it is not an easy side to beat. They have very good attackers, but a bit slow at the back. If we can use our strength, our ability to get behind their players and take our chances when we are in and around the box I believe we have a chance of victory,” added Senong.
Bafana Bafana and Senegal will kickoff at 21h00 South African time.
In an earlier match in the same group, Ghana will take on Algeria.