After Tokelo Rantie and Seydou Keita traded goals in normal time, the game remained tied until the shoot-out, in which the Bafana Bafana failed to score three spot-kicks.
But Igesund championed the performances of his players and insisted the Rainbow Nation have made huge strides as the tournament progressed.
“Today, we lost with pride, dignity and passion,” said Igesund.
“As a coach, you can ask from your team so much, they gave their all today. If you lose, you want to lose with pride.
“We played well, but we didn’t score the goals – that is unfortunate. We have proven that we can match anybody.
“We played a team that is ranked third in Africa and we matched them and dominated them. There had to be a loser today, it had to be us on penalties.
“This tournament has been fantastic. I think we have made huge strides. We got better and better as the tournament went on.
“The improvement we made are fantastic. This team has come a long way not only the way they play but also off the field.”
Mali coach Patrice Carteron saluted his side’s ability to carve out a result against the host nation, and secure a place in the semi-finals, but believes anything can happen.
“The South African team was very tough to play against,” said Carteron.
“As it happened against the DRC, we conceded an early goal, but my players showed high levels of concentrations and we were managed to come back.
“The task was very difficult and the expectations were very high but we always play to win.
“What is coming in this competition we don’t know, but what we know is that we are going to the semi-finals and we will dream from there.”
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