SAfrica beats France at WCup, both eliminated; Argentina, SKorea, Uruguay, Mexico advanceBy Chris Lehourites, AP
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
France, SAfrica eliminated; Argentina advances
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa left its World Cup with heads high. The French can’t get much lower.
Bafana Bafana became the first host not to advance despite beating France 2-1 Tuesday. Uruguay, which edged Mexico 1-0, won Group A and the Mexicans moved into the round of 16, too, on goal differential over South Africa (plus-1 to minus 2).
“The fighting spirit was there,” said Katlego Mphela, who scored one of South Africa’s goals in Bloemfontein. “It’s a bit unfortunate, but we beat France in the World Cup.”
That was hardly an upset, even though France is ranked ninth by FIFA and South Africa is 83rd. Considering how the French imploded at this tournament, it would have been hard to fathom them winning a game.
“The whole of France needs to have an explanation for this disaster,” captain Patrice Evra said after being benched for the match. “It’s not the time to give them, but I will personally give them … what I went through, just the truth, as quickly as possible.”
What he and his teammates went through, aside from two defeats and a draw, was seeing Nicolas Anelka kicked off the squad for a profane tirade directed at coach Raymond Domenech, followed by the players boycotting a practice session.
While France, the World Cup runner-up four years ago to Italy, was falling apart, Argentina advanced as expected from Group B. But it took the Albiceleste most of the game to break through a staunch Greece defense and win 2-0 in Polokwane. South Korea also made the round of 16 by tying Nigeria 2-2 in Durban.
Bongani Khumalo gave South Africa the lead when he beat Abou Diaby in the 20th minute and scored from Siphiwe Tshabalala’s cross. Mphela added a second in the 37th, scoring from Tsepo Masilela’s cross.
“The early goal helped a lot,” Khumalo said. “I really thought we could pull through.”
Both goals came after France was reduced to 10 men in the 25th minute when Yoann Gourcuff was sent off for elbowing Macbeth Sibaya.
Florent Malouda scored France’s only goal of the tournament in the 70th. That goal gave them one more than in 2002, when the then-defending champion French were also eliminated in the first round.
Luis Suarez scored Uruguay’s goal against Mexico in the 43rd minute, heading in a perfect cross from Edinson Cavani at Rustenburg.
“The important thing is that we qualified in first place,” Uruguay striker Diego Forlan said. “They controlled the ball well, and in truth it was quite hard for us.”
Uruguay didn’t allow a goal in the first round.
Martin Demichelis gave Argentina the lead in the 77th minute when he headed the ball off teammate Diego Milito and then shot past Greece goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas. Martin Palermo added the second goal in the 89th, knocking in a rebound after Tzorvas saved a shot from Lionel Messi.
Messi served as Argentina’s youngest captain at 22 years old. Regular captain Javier Mascherano was rested by coach Diego Maradona, along with several other starters from the first two games.
Lee Jung-soo and Park Chu-young scored the goals for South Korea, which advanced past the first round away from home for the first time in seven tries.
Lee equalized in the 38th and Park scored in the 49th. Kalu Uche had given the Nigerians the lead in the 12th and Ayegbeni Yakubu leveled in the 69th on a penalty kick.
Nigeria missed several easy chances throughout the match.
Tags: 2010 Fifa World Cup, Africa, Argentina, Asia, Central America, Durban, East Asia, Europe, Events, Fifa, France, International Soccer, Johannesburg, Latin America And Caribbean, Mexico, North America, South Africa, South America, South Korea, Southern Africa, Uruguay, Western Europe, World Cup