Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane said he felt like he had failed the nation on Saturday as confusion regarding the rules saw his side miss out on qualifying for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
South Africa celebrated, under the impression they had qualified for the continental tournament, after playing to a goalless draw with Sierra Leone in Nelspruit.
Bafana technically finished on top of Group G with a better goal difference to Niger and Sierra Leone, with all three teams on nine points, well clear of bottom-placed Egypt.
In accordance with Confederation of African Football (Caf) rules, however, Niger qualified by virtue of a better head-to-head record, having beaten Sierra Leone and Bafana, while South Africa boasted only a single victory over Niger.
"I'm confused. Just have a look at the table of the group now and see who is top of the group," Mosimane said.
"Put points on the table now and tell me, are you going to put Niger on top now, even with our better goal difference?
"It's very sad for South Africa because the country deserves to be in next year's Afcon. I feel like I have failed."
The South African players, management, and administrators, as well as the spectators and media contingent in attendance, were seemingly all under the impression that Bafana had qualified for the continental tournament.
While the players had celebrated on the field, in the midst of the confusion, their performance at Mbombela Stadium had been woeful.
Mosimane, having heard Egypt were leading Niger in a simultaneous fixture in Cairo, said he had changed his game plan, introducing midfielders Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Oupa Manyisa in the second half as they targeted a draw and the point they thought they needed.
"Do you think I would have left [Lehlohonolo] Majoro on the bench and put on a midfielder if I knew that we needed a goal? It doesn't make sense," Mosimane said.
He also lashed out at Caf, the continental football governing body, for the poor state of football, and what he deemed poor organisation, in Africa.
"Africa is a jungle, my friend," Mosimane said.
"The European and South American formats are so much better because everything is running smooth, but it's very difficult to play in Africa.
"The price is always loaded against teams that are playing away, and Caf should also be helping with good pitches and match officials."
South Africa will automatically qualify, as hosts, for the 2013 Afcon tournament.