Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Farewell France and Bafana Bafana

As Uruguay defeated Mexico 1-0 to take the first spot of group A, South Africa remained with a chance to qualify for the last-16 if they could defeat the hapless Frenchmen 4-0. It went well, 2-0 up, but it was not to be as the Bafana Bafana only managed to win 2-1.
South Africa is now the first host ever to be eliminated in the first round, a not too flattering historical first for the first African hosts of the World Cup, but not too surprising: the fans have been charming, and South Africa deserves all the best, but South Africa is simply not a football nation (or soccer, as they apparently insist to call it in South Africa...), and their national side in this World Cup was mediocre at their best, not worth a dime at their worst. In particular Uruguay managed to expose them as the poor side they are, and indeed the Bafana Bafana are light-years away from making it in any World Cup.
While the fans will be missed, the South African team will not. That said, it is clear that already empty stadiums will be even more empty, and that is only FIFA to blame for putting the World Cup in a country that is more interested in cricket, and where the people who are actually interested, cannot afford the prices of a match.

France have been the joke of the tournament, and will exit the tournament almost as pathetically that they entered it. They are undoubtfully one of the most talented sides in the world, but they are an example that a team is not just about good players, but more about having a harmonious side. Raymond Domenech has surely been a disaster as national team coach, and one may hope that this leads to his replacement that will put the outstanding French sides back on the top of the world stage where they surely belong.

In any case, neither South Africa or France belong among the world's 16 best teams and it is fully deserved that Uruguay and Mexico are there.

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