Pienaar: Hosts can take heart from Confed Cup

JOHANNESBURG - Midfielder Steven Pienaar said South Africa would take a lot of heart from their Confederations Cup displays despite the disappointment of losing to Brazil in Thursday's semi-final. The hosts matched Brazil stride for stride at Ellis Park and if they had been able to supply a cutting edge to their attacks down both flanks they could have celebrated a famous victory instead of lamenting Daniel Alves's 88th-minute winner. "It's a shame because we know there was something we could have achieved from the game but it was a great learning experience," Pienaar told reporters. "The (2010) World Cup is still a long way off but we have a young team and we can only build on this." Pienaar, like many of his team mates, grew in stature the longer the game went on. Once they realised the Brazilians were beatable the South African players began taking more time on the ball and picking their passes more carefully. "That confidence is what's been lacking in the game," said the Everton midfielder, named man of the match on Thursday. "We've been talking a lot about self-belief and that came today but unfortunately we played against a superior team who can score from anywhere." U.S. INSPIRATION Centre back Matthew Booth, who played his part in keeping Brazil's high-octane strike force at arm's length, said watching United States beat Spain 2-0 on Wednesday had inspired South Africa. "That was a good confidence booster for us," he said. "Once we started playing and held them in the first half it was similar to the Spain game ... you could see the change in attitude as we knew they were there for the taking. "Unfortunately we couldn't take our chances but I think we've changed a lot of journalists' minds and proved a lot of people wrong." Asked about the team's lack of cutting edge, Booth said: "That's a question you can pass to Benni McCarthy." McCarthy is the country's leading striker but is out of favour with coach Joel Santana. "Other strikers have come to the fore and that's a positive," added Booth. "I wish we were more clinical but that will come with time. "For most of the players this was their first major tournament and it's very important we keep this level in the games we've got coming up and all the way to 2010."