South Africa got its first win at the 2010 FIFA World Cup by defeating France 2-1 Tuesday. The victory was a small consolation for South Africa, as they became the first host country to be knocked from the group stage of the tournament.
Bafana Bafana had an impressive World Cup run, only falling to Uruguay. The Uruguaian team will end up on top of Group A, and Mexico will also advance on goal differential. South Africa finished with a -2 goal differential while the Mexicans finished +1.
The lone dark spot for the South Africans was a 3-0 defeat to Uruguay in which they allowed Diego Forlan to net two goals. They looked to have a big win against France for any hope of advancing over Mexico.
They got the result they wanted as Uruguay downed the Mexicans 1-0, but could not provide enough offense to increase their goal differential.
South Africa came out aggressive in the first half, scoring goals in the 20th and 37th minute. After France came back to score a goal in the 70th minute, the rest of the match was played to futility, as both teams guaranteed themselves an early exit from the tournament.
The South Africans were the only team to leave the match with positive feelings as the French have been caught up in controversy since their second match of the World Cup.
The French lost to Mexico 2-0 and striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home after he and coach Raymond Domenech had a confrontation. The next day, French players protested the dismissal by refusing to practice.
The controversy translated to frustration on the field when Yoann Gourcuff was forced to leave the match with a red card in the 25th minute. He was ejected for his elbow to MacBeth Sibaya that was ruled dangerous play.
The South African offense came from Bongani Khumalo when he beat Abou Diaby to a cross from Siphiwe Tshabalala. His header gave Bafana Bafana the lead.
Katlego Mphela doubled the lead just 17 minutes later when he knocked in a cross from Tsepo Masilela just past the watchful eye of defender Gael Clichy.
“The fighting spirit was there,” said Mphela. “It’s a bit unfortunate, but we beat France in the World Cup.”
French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot was disappointed in her team’s representation of France, and made a special trip to the locker room before the match.
“It’s your kids, our children, for whom perhaps you will no longer be heroes,” said Bachelot. “It is the dreams of your partners, your friends, your fans that you have perhaps broken. You have tarnished the image of France.”
South Africa was the 31st ranked team out of the 32 nations at the World Cup this year, but performed like they were meant to advance to the Round of 16. They began the tournament with an emotional tie with Mexico, suffered a deflating defeat against Uruguay, and ended with a defeat of the No. 9 team in the world.
Soccer sportsbooks had set the French as Even favorites to defeat the South African team Tuesday. The South Africans overcame their underdog line set at +260.