Still, the host nation's performance against Brazil in a 1-0 loss in the semi final has made believers of Bafana Bafana's supporters.
They showed heart, passion and true grit against one of the world's football giants. A bounce here and there and we'd be talking about South Africa, not Brazil, in the final.
Bafana Bafana skipper Joel Santana says his side have improved considerably during the Confederations Cup.
Santana thinks his team could prove competitive when they host the World Cup next year.
"We've improved a lot, it's been great for a lot of my young players," he said.
"It's their first competition at this level. That makes me very happy, it has been excellent preparation for the World Cup."
Santana said he was delighted with the steep learning curve climbed by his team at the two-week tournament, even though they scored only twice.
South Africa were beaten by a late Dani Alves free-kick by the five-time world champions at Ellis Park and the coach was proud of the team's performance.
"We played very well and it was great for our confidence," Santana said.
"We showed good discipline and great defense against a team who are five-time world champions and it was always going to be a difficult match."
Bafana had initially struggled under Santana - failing to make it to the last round of qualifying for the 2010 African Cup of Nations, but the Brazilian says his aim has always been the global showpiece next year.
"My task is to prepare the team for the World Cup," he said.
"Now I have my squad, I know all the players and their abilities. There are two or three positions that need improving but what is important is that we have many more testing matches ahead of us."
South Africa will play friendlies against Serbia, Germany, Ireland, Norway and Iceland between August and October.MY POV: If you're South African, your head should be held up high today! The national team played their hearts out and gave the world a great exhibit of what could be next summer. Let's hope they improve as the year goes on and make an even better showing on the grand stage next year.