'We're learning with every game' - Santana

2009-04-02 00:00

JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana head coach Joel Santana conceded that his side learnt a hard lesson when they were beaten 2-0 by classy Portugal in a friendly international played at the Stade Olympique in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday night.

"We have learnt a lot and gained much valuable experience from playing such a quality side such as Portugal. The experienced gained will be of tremendous help as we get closer to the Confederations Cup and the World Cup finals," said Santana.

Bafana kick off the Confederations Cup when they host Asian champions Iraq at Ellis Park on June 14. Santana also admitted that both goals, scored from corners by Bruno Alves in the fourth minute and debutant striker Edinho, were due to a lack of concentration. However, the first goal was a bad error by goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who came for Chelsea star Deco's corner, but missed the ball and defender Alves was able to head into an empty net.

"The defence was at fault as they were not concentrating as they should have been. But again, that is what we are here for, to learn and gain this sort of experience," said Santana.

Portugal were rarely troubled by a Bafana side that struggled to match their more skilful opponents.

Santana is hoping to stage two more friendly matches before Bafana meet Poland in their final warm-up game at Orlando Stadium on June 6 ahead of their date with Iraq.

"I would like to play two more games before Poland; one would be for South African-based players only, to give players another chance to impress." However, despite the loss Santana promised the public he is confident Bafana will have a successful Confederations Cup and would at least get past the group stages of the World Cup next year.

"I believe we are getting better and learning a lot with every game we play. I predict we will have a good Confederations Cup and be strong enough to get past the first round of the World Cup," he said.

He also said that the change in climate has affected his players. Bafana defeated Norway 2-1 in 30 C heat at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium outside Rustenburg on Saturday, and four days later played against Portugal in chilly four-degree conditions.

"I do not want to look for excuses, but playing in two extreme weather conditions did have an effect on the players who had little time to adjust to the cold."

But he praised his side for their effort against Portugal. He said: "I thought we adapted well under the circumstances." The squad arrive home at the O.R. Tambo Airport at 10 am today.

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