Both France and South Africa have failed to qualify from FIFA World Cup 2010 Group A, despite the hosts winning the final group game 2-1.
South Africa came close to getting to the round of 16 however, as this win put them level on four points with Mexico, albeit with insufficient goal difference to progress.
The hosts became the first in history to fail to get through what looked on paper to be a very difficult group despite having chances in this match to get the four goal advantage they required to do so. The lively Mphela hit a post with the score at 2-0 on the hour mark and Llores made three impressive saves in this match to prevent Bafana Bafana from sending their home fans into raptures.
France’s 2010 World Cup became all the more forgettable when they fell a goal behind to a 20th minute Kumalo header after Llores misjudged a corner and the South African aggressively headed home. His jump seemed to be a foul on the defender, but nobody in the ground felt like arguing the point.
Five minutes later, Gourcuff was shown a straight red for an elbow on his marker in the other box and France’s hopes of progress were all but removed from possibility.
Mphela gave home fans hope on 37 minutes by scoring from a yard following a scrappy set of events in the France area. In the second half, his luck would desert him: he and South Africa missed a number of good opportunities, denied by the post and the improved display from Llores, from the 4-0 scoreline they required.
Ultimately, on 70 minutes, Florent Malouda knocked the wind from their sales with a well taken goal following a great unselfish pass from Franck Ribery who had committed the goalkeeper. After this hammer blow, the hosts looked a spent force, such was the effort they had been putting into getting the additional two goals that seemed a distinct possibility for the first 25 minutes of the second period.
South Africa and France are out of the tournament in distinctly different styles. The less said about the France campaign, the better, though the hosts have acquitted themselves extremely well, it is a shame for their fans that they were unable to hold the lead they grabbed in their opener against Mexico, or that they weren’t able to keep Uruguay to a lower score, or that they couldn’t grab the chances that came along today.
In the end, it is those fine margins – goal difference – are all that separate South Africa from the final stages of the World Cup in their own land. There is pride in that.