Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WC2010: Au revoir Les Bleus...

South Africa beat France 2-1 for only their second FIFA World Cup victory, but both teams ultimately emerged losers in Bloemfontein. Carlos Alberto Parreira's team became the first host nation to fail to qualify for the tournament's second round while a miserable campaign from the French came to a predictable conclusion as they also bowed out of South Africa 2010. Bongani Khumalo and Katlego Mphela scored a goal each in the first half against 10-man France. Florent Malouda pulled one back for the French in the 70th.

Raymond Domenech made six changes to the team that had gone down to Mexico in their previous game – with captain Patrice Evra one of those dropped for leading the player strike, and gave Alou Diarra the captain’s armband against South Africa.

France started the match not cutting the kind of shape that one might expect of a team in disarray, though they were hardly playing with the fizz that might be anticipated of such a star-studded unit. A clever pass from Yoann Gourcuff, one of six new faces in les Bleus’ starting XI, created an early chance for another newcomer, Andre-Pierre Gignac, though the Toulouse striker finished tamely when well placed in the box after just three minutes. The Europeans continued to push on, but the best they could manage in their early spell was a headed flick from Djibril Cisse from the edge of the penalty box.

South Africa seemed on course for miraculous progress to the knockout stages of the World Cup but ultimately missed out after a 2-1 victory over France. Bongani Khumalo gave Bafana Bafana the lead against the run of play, and when Yoann Gourcuff was harshly dismissed midway through the first period the hosts smelled history. The impressive Katlego Mphela struck before the break, but chances were missed and when Florent Malouda pulled a goal back for their guests, the Rainbow Nation’s dream was effectively ended.

France verdict:
Dismal, farcical, embarrassing, chaotic. You could never run out of words to describe France's display at this tournament. France were woeful even before they went down to ten men and didn't get any better. You have to pity Laurent Blanc.

South Africa verdict:
After such a poor display in defeat to Uruguay, South Africa can exit the World Cup with pride with victory over the 'mighty' France. They may be the first host country to fail to emerge from their group, but they were never expected to go far. They only go out on goal difference and that, in a way, is a triumph.

Stat attack:
Thierry Henry has drawn level with Fabien Barthez in making the most World Cup appearances in French history (17).

It's just sad that France WC2010 campaign ended just after three matches. More saddening that this may be the last WC match for Thierry Henry. Hopefully he'll still be around for France in Euro 2012.

On a lighter note, France is lucky to score a goal tonight, at least they have something to show :-) and South Africa's feat of becoming the first host nation to qualify to the 2nd round may give some hope for Malaysia to bid for hosting the World Cup, as now it's ok for a host nation to bow out in the first round :-).

Anyway, au revoir
Les Bleus!. You're still my team, see you in Brazil 2014 and ohh! goodbye Domenech and welcom Laurent Blanc!

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