South Africa's cricketers would have to take their latest failure at a limited-overs tournament "on the chin," coach Gary Kirsten said on Thursday.
He added that the high-pressure test series in England wasn't the reason for their disappointing World Twenty20 performance.
The coach offered no excuses for the Proteas' exit in the Super Eights of the T20 showpiece in Sri Lanka, an unexpected slip-up after South Africa's impressive test series victory over England to take the No. 1 ranking.
"We have to be honest with ourselves, we didn't close the deal," Kirsten said of the T20 performance as the squad arrived home following three months away in England and Sri Lanka. "From that perspective it was disappointing. But we need to take it on the chin and move forward."
Kirsten again couldn't convincingly explain why South Africa's collection of impressive individuals didn't combine successfully at a world limited-overs event, but did say the Proteas were "unsettled" in the shortest format.
"I'm fully confident in the players and resources," Kirsten said, but conceded South Africa still had to work out how to remove the "collective mist" that hangs over it whenever it goes to a major tournament.
It was believed that former South Africa batsman Kirsten, who took over a year ago, was the man to change the Proteas' fortunes at World Cups after he led India to the 50-over world title last year. South Africa has a long history of failing at cricket's major tournaments and has underachieved at every world tournament since 1996.
Captain AB de Villiers said South Africa lacked "killer instinct" in Sri Lanka and picked the defeat to Pakistan in the Super Eights, when the Proteas had their opposition on the ropes, as the turning point. South Africa went on to lose to Australia and India to be bundled out, losing all three of its games in the Super Eights.
"The game against Pakistan was very disappointing and it's hard to come back in a short tournament," De Villiers said. "You need that momentum."
Having been away from home since early July, South Africa has a quick turnaround in a busy midyear schedule and soon heads to Australia for a three-test series starting next month.
South Africa's priority now, manager Mohammed Moosajee said, was to manage players like De Villiers, fellow batsman Hashim Amla and bowlers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, who had been playing non-stop cricket for three months.