President Jacob Zuma has risen to the defence of the South Africa team, following their elimination from the group stage of the third African Nations Championship.
Bafana bafana were beaten 3-1 by the Super Eagles of Nigeria on Sunday in front of a capacity Cape Town stadium crowd.
The early exit has led sports minister Fikile Mbalula to tag the Premier Soccer League (PSL) players as “useless” and a “bunch of losers”, while also urging the rainbow nation to “forget this (South African) generation of players” and build a new team.
“The fact that the team lost, that doesn’t mean anything as other teams lost as well.
“Some want the team disbanded. It has improved greatly and needs support,” Zuma told a South African radio station.
Coach Gordon Igesund has also said he “won’t throw in the towel” unless told to do so, after his side suffered another disappointing loss on home soil.
While also hosting the 2013 African Cup of Nations (Afcon), South Africa failed to advance past the quarter-finals. They missed out on Brazil 2014 (Fifa World Cup) and lost in the semi-finals of the regional Cosafa Cup.
But Zuma has given his backing to Igesund, saying: “We’re well aware that some people are criticising the way the national team played against Nigeria. The current coach knows what he’s doing. He’s great at his job.”