“Although they did not win any games, and were subsequently knocked out in the first round of the tournament, their performance, especially in their first and last game, showed that with more experience, and support, they can beat the best the continent can offer,” he said.
Stofile added in a report published by BuaNews that while some viewed the team’s performance as dismal, what the country wanted to achieve in Ghana should be understood.
“The journey was never intended to end in Ghana but to expose our players to a tournament situation of top-flight football as a way of turning them into matured players.
“Yes, had we won the tournament, we would all have celebrated but now that we haven’t, we cannot just dismiss the team as hopeless.
Commenting on the players, the minister said most of the players that represented the country in Ghana were young but had shown a sense of maturity that exceeded expectations.
“As South Africans, we must allow these young players to develop. If we support them accordingly, they may even surprise us with even better performances in the 2010 tournaments.”
He said the Africa Cup of Nations was a very tough tournament and that South Africa can only hope that the team has not only learnt valuable lessons, but have also realised that they did not have the luxury of learning forever.
“We expect them to improve with each game and become a world-class outfit that we all expect them to be,” the Minister concluded.