WHEN the celebration of South Africa's progression to the quarterfinal of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) has died down, the assessment of where Bafana Bafana stand and how they can improve can begin.
Wonderfully dramatic as their qualification was, coach Gordon Igesund is far too astute not to realise that his team need radical improvement if they are seriously to challenge for the Africa's top soccer title.
For Bafana to come back after their dismal opening draw against Cape Verde and beat Angola so comprehensively was impressive enough, but to find the mental reserves having conceded the second against Morocco to force another equaliser on Sunday was something else. This showed how potent home advantage can be – would they have found that drive without a packed stadium urging them forward?
That is the major positive – Bafana have shown themselves a side capable of conjuring goals when they really need them, almost by willpower alone.
The negative, though, is that the way they did so seemed to have so little to do with Igesund's plan. Since he took over last June, he has preached a doctrine of possession and control, of dominating midfield and assuming that mastery of the ball would lead to goals.
If Thulani Serero was fully fit or Katlego Mphela in peak form, perhaps the theory would have yielded better results, but it was effective enough against Angola.
And if your centre-forward isn't in great goalscoring nick, just be grateful one of your centre-backs is. Siyabonga Sangweni's two goals in this tournament have both been the result of sensationally good finishes.
Against Morocco, though, it fell apart completely. It was the north Africans who controlled possession and it's hard not to wonder what might have happened had they kept playing as they did in the first half.
So where do South Africa go from here? The key really lies in why Igesund believes South Africa were outpassed, particularly in the first half. The game against Brazil in Sao Paulo last September suggested South Africa, when uninhibited by anxiety, are good enough on the ball to make Igesund's approach work.
A far bigger concern is the defending, not helped by the occasional skittishness of Itumeleng Khune in goal.
Having at least avoided the embarrassment of failing to make it out of the group, the relieving of pressure may bring the passing game back.
It will need to be almost perfect, though, if it is to prevent opponents exploiting the defensive shortcomings.