Pienaar: Pressure got to us
Steven Pienaar believes that the pressure of the opening game may have affected South Africa after they were held to a goalless draw against Iraq in the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 today. The hosts kicked off the tournament with high expectations of walking away with all three points from the game in Johannesburg, but the determined visitors held their own to claim a share of the spoils.
Before the match, Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana spoke of the importance of victory in the first two fixtures in Group A, against Iraq and New Zealand. But, despite showing plenty of attacking intent, his side lacked cutting edge in front of goal.
"We are definitely disappointed because we expected a lot from this game," Pienaar said. "If you can get three points in the opening game, it normally takes a lot of pressure off a team.
"Now we have our backs against the wall. But we just have to stay focused and there's still two games," he said. "So we'll have to give everything then."
The South Africans had only one real opportunity in the opening 45 minutes, but were blunted by Iraq goalkeeper Mohammed Kassid, who finger-tipped away a cross-goal shot from MacBeth Sibaya. In the second period, the best chance came via a header by Kagisho Dikgacoi, which was cleared off the line by one of his own players, Bernard Parker.
"In the first half, we were a bit poor and gave the ball away easily," Pienaar said. "I think Iraq were very well organised and it was difficult for the guys to break them down.
"We knew the first game was going to be difficult, everyone was expecting a win, so we're just disappointed now," he said. "But I'm glad it's over now and we can look forward to the next game, hopefully a bit more relaxed."
Pienaar, who only came on for the final five minutes after starting on the bench, also brushed aside any injury worries, adding: "I was ill the whole week, that's why I started on the bench. I feel much better now and things should be okay."
Bora enjoying the moment
Iraq coach Bora Milutinovic was pleased with the way his side performed, saying that he was going to enjoy the moment rather than concentrate on their next group opponents Spain. He said: "I'm very happy because we got one point. Now we are alive and we have more than two days to prepare for the game against Spain.
"We did everything I wanted them to do and that has pleased me. I thought the team was good, there was very good discipline," Milutinovic said.
"I am not yet sure what the future holds, whether we can qualify or not still remains to be seen. We have to respect everybody, but what I am sure is that we're going to enjoy the next two days. We have to enjoy this moment first."