Junior Springbok assistant coach Bafana Nhleko said the team was still hurting from their semi-final loss to France but wants to finish on a high note.
The Junior Springboks will face hosts Argentina in the bronze playoff match at the Racecourse Stadium in Rosario on Saturday at 6pm, which will be followed by the final between France and Australia at 8:30pm.
Speaking after reviewing the 20-7 loss against France, which dashed the SA U20’s hopes of making their first final since 2014, Nhleko said the defeat was of their own making.
‘Having watched the game again, we are hurting,’ Nhleko said. ‘It is not a nice feeling to be in this position, and the worst part of it is that the bulk of the things that went against us were of our own doing. We didn’t stick to our systems or manage the game as we had planned, and through that we put ourselves under a lot of pressure.
‘Collectively as management and players, we take responsibility for the below-par performance. We could not get going in spite of opportunities to bring ourselves back into the game. The match statistics say we were in the contest, but we never felt that way and the scoreboard didn’t go our way either.
‘France certainly taught us a few things about being tactically accurate and about decision-making. It is now a case of learning from this and understanding what we are good at and how to stick to that so that we can get the rewards.’
Nhleko, however, added the team owed it to themselves to make sure they finish the competition on a positive note.
‘We are going into our fifth game and it is a difficult one given that we didn’t make it into the final, but the important thing is to understand that we are wearing a South African jersey and badge.
‘So it is important for us, firstly, to finish the tournament on a high note, and secondly to make sure as a group that all the work we have put in still becomes relevant in how we perform.
‘Obviously it is not the game we wanted to play in, but it is where we find ourselves, so the most important thing is to go out there and ensure that we are mentally ready to execute and express ourselves within the system, and hopefully get the reward.
‘It is important to always remember that we are wearing the green and gold when we step on to the field and that every game matters.’
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