South Africa beat sorry France but go out

By Mark Gleeson

BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - South Africa overcame a dispirited France team, who were reduced to 10 men for more than a hour, to win 2-1 in their last World Cup Group A match on Tuesday but it was not enough to reach the second round.

Uruguay, who beat Mexico 1-0, finished top of the group with seven points for a place in the last 16 with the Mexicans who edged out South Africa on goal difference. The hosts were third on four points with hapless France finishing last on one.

South Africa became the first World Cup hosts to fail to survive the group stage but at least restored some pride.

"I am proud of the boys. They made this country proud. They proved that they have made progress," said their upbeat Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.

The hosts, seeking to put on a good display in front of 39,415 spectators at the Free State Stadium, also recorded their first triumph over a major footballing power with first-half goals from Bongani Khumalo and Katlego Mphela.

However, they had the advantage of playing against 10 men for all but the first 25 minutes of the match after the controversial dismissal of Yoann Gourcuff.


The French defense was also caught out when Mphela scored the second goal in the 37th minute, bundling the ball over the line after a square pass from Tsepo Masilela.

Mphela could have netted again five minutes into the second half when he ran onto a clever through pass from Siphiwe Tshabalala but his shot grazed the side of the post.

France, who brought on forward Thierry Henry, showed effort in patches and pulled a goal back after 70 minutes when Franck Ribery suddenly sparked into life with a clever run that set up an easy tap-in for substitute Florent Malouda.

France's players had refused to train on Sunday in protest at the sending home of striker Nicolas Anelka for swearing at coach Domenech. Captain Patrice Evra was not included in the team for Tuesday's match against South Africa.

"This is not the time to analyze what happened," said Domenech. "This team have true potential. There were extraordinary moments and there will be more. The France team will never die. They will carry on."

(Editing by Ken Ferris)