In a sentence
Despite a flying start and a one man advantage, South Africa fail to get the goals necessary to progress.
Electrifying before a limp finale
At half-time, the improbable seemed to be on but the second half saw the game fade. It would have been great to see Domenech, in his final 45 minutes as manager of France (quite possibly as manager of anybody), go for broke , throw three up front and try to win back some pride. After all, this was a generous South African defence. Disappointing too that South Africa went flat after France’s goal.
Far from humiliated
Before this tournament, four points would have been judged a very respectable return for South Africa. Let’s not forget that there were serious fears of them being outclassed.
The tournament will suffer without the hosts but at least the Rainbow Nation earned a few special moments to celebrate.
No-one watching this would have believed that France were still playing for a place in the last 16. Mentally, they were on the plane They played with indifference; none of these players would be so half-hearted for their clubs. It’s clear that for some multi-millionaire footballers, representing your country in a World Cup appears a burden rather than the ultimate honour.
The moment – Mphela hits the post on 55 minutes
The striker was excellent but this was a huge moment. Would have left South Africa 3-0 up, with 35 minutes to find one goal to put them through.
One advantage of this shambles is that Laurent Blanc will have a licence to make any change he wishes; there will be an appetite for revolution. It will be interesting to see what approach he takes. Does he try to lift this current group of players, many of whom are still fairly young, or does he ring the changes?
For South Africa, it must be hoped that the energetic development of this squad over the past few years is continued after the tournament’s end.