One can only wonder what L'Equipe will have to say about this.
The implosion of a much-ballyhooed France team was finished off with a terrible showing in a 2-1 loss to host South Africa Tuesday. Mathematically still alive to move into the round of 16 out of Group A, 'Les Bleus' certainly did not play like it, with a disorganized, sluggish showing with 10 men for much of the contest after Yoann Gourcuff was red-carded in the 25th minute. On the other hand, 'Bafana Bafana' played inspired futbol, nearly making up a goal differential deficit to Mexico. Ultimately, the South Africans fell short, becoming the first World Cup host to fail to qualify for the knockout rounds, but can hold their head high not only for defeating the runner-ups in the last Cup, but also for the style in which they did it.
The hosts took the lead in the 20th minute on a Bongani Khumalo header, and added to it on Katlego Mphela's goal in the 37th minute. At that point, with Uruguay leading Mexico, it looked as if the South Africans might improbably have a chance to advance. It was not to be, however, as French substitute Florent Malouda scored off a scramble in the box in the 70th minute to cripple the host's hopes.
This brings a fitting close to a historically chaotic World Cup for France. Following an opening-game draw with Uruguay, the French lost to Mexico 1-0, a match that was marred by the revelation that striker Nicolas Anelka had been dismissed from the team following a profane halftime tirade to coach Raymond Domenech. The French players responded by refusing to practice the following day, with captain Patrice Evra getting into a heated argument with the team's equipment manager. Domenech then ripped his team in the press and benched Evra for today's game; all the controversy led to the director of the French federation resigning and French president Nicolas Sarkozy calling for order.
All in all, a terrible showing for France, and an honorable one for South Africa. Thoughts? Comments?