Bafana Bafana had 15 debutants at the Africa Cup of Nations. Failure to win a match, however, has ex.
"Our team fought hard," he said.
"For us, South Africa has already won by being among the best of this successful tournament.
"We wish Mali and all the other teams well in their endeavour to lift the Afcon 2013 trophy on February 10."
"We look forward to Bafana Bafana representing us proudly in Brazil, both at the 2014 Confederations and the Fifa World Cup, Mbalula said.
"We thank South Africans who continue to rally behind Bafana Bafana and plead for their continued support towards the remaining teams in the tournament."
Bafana Bafana were knocked out of the continental showpiece after failing to beat Mali in their quarterfinal shootout at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
Mali proceeded to the semifinals after winning 3-1 on penalties against South Africa.
The two sides played to a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes.
"For two weeks South Africa has displayed excellent performance on and off the field, which inspired many across the length and breadth of our beloved country," Mbalula said.
"We take pride in the support and confidence expressed by President Jacob Zuma to Bafana Bafana prior and during the Afcon tournament."
The finals of the Afcon tournament will be played at the National Stadium in Johannesburg on February 10.
SOWETANLIVE: How do you feel about Bafana's performance? Do you think they played well, or they gave up after the first goal scored by them? #BafanaBafana