Heartbreak for South African fans
© AFP

There was heartbreak, sheer disappointment and disbelief in the streets of Johannesburg on Thursday night as South Africa lost a close contest with defending FIFA Confederations Cup champions, Brazil at Ellis Park in the semi-finals of the FIFA Confederations Cup.

It took a perfectly executed free-kick from Daniel Alves to beat in-form South Africa goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune with only three minutes to go with the match looking destined for extra time.

It was a devastating moment for the South Africans who had pushed Brazil to the limit throughout the game and the defeat was hard to swallow for the playing staff and the fans alike. However, despite the loss, Bafana Bafana fans had colourful appraisal for the team's fighting and tenacious spirit.

"We could have won that game, we just needed to score one goal and Brazil would not have come back. It's very disappointing to lose like that, but I think we are all proud of the boys and the effort they put in that game. It was a heroic display for them," Tony Doysen said.

Honestly, I didn't give South Africa a chance in this tournament, but they surprised me.
Nkosinathi Nqolo, a South Africa fan.

For many South African fans, a meeting with Brazil is a romance story - it is an encounter with a side that they would like to believe epitomises the kind of football they aspire to play in the international arena. But some romance stories end with heartbreak.

Before the game against Brazil, pundits had already written the South African team off, but many were left stunned by their resilience, their quest to raise their game and their ability to put acclaimed opponents on the back-foot. Another football supporter, Kgomotso Dube showered midfield maestro and man of the match, Steven Pienaar and Khune with praises.

"First of all, I want to say it was heartbreaking to lose like that to Brazil. I know people expected us to lose, but we played very well and we should have beaten them. On the players, I think Pienaar is unbelievable in that midfield, he won every ball against a strong Brazilian midfield. I think he combines very well with (Teko) Modise and (Siphiwe) Tshabalala. Another player who has been outstanding is the keeper, Khune," Dube said.

Already, there are some talks in the streets of South Africa that Thursday night's performance might have overseen the rebirth of a side that has been perennially underachieving for the past five years. "Honestly, I didn't give South Africa a chance in this tournament, but they surprised me. I didn't really think they were going to put a strong fight because we were not winning games before this tournament. The performance against Brazil was outstanding," Bafana Bafana fan, Nkosinathi Nqolo said.

With the disappointment of the loss against Brazil now a thing of the past, football enthusiasts in the country will be hoping for an upset against Spain in what will be a re-enactment of the group stage clash.