What We Learned From Group A Eliminators

South Africa 2 – 1 France

Oh my how South Africa will rue a moment of defensive madness. Not the moment when they allowed Ribery to get goal side of his defensive marker and set up Malouda for the goal that totally deflated Bfana Bfana, but the moment in that first match when they played not one, not two, not three, but four Mexicans onside for the tap-in that allowed Mexico back into the game and dropped two vital points for South Africa. How different things would have been had South Africa won that as they really should. They might have gone into the Uruguay match on a high with a bit of momentum and got some kind of result. As it is they are down and out having just beaten the losing finalists from 2006 and in some style until the last 20 minutes when they began to tire and the French scored. It’s sad, they could have had an easier Group (with say North Korea, Nigeria, and Honduras for instance), but the truth is that they were a poor side who survived on enthusiasm and optimism rather than skill and whose top man, Pienaar, never found the form that made him so effective for Everton. Only the supercool Tshabalala really impressed and he missed a number of opportunities to increase South Africa’s lead.

France, meanwhile, go out on something of a high, they have done marginally better than they did in 2002. Sure they finished bottom of their group, which included Uruguay, they played three, lost two and drew one, and they had a goal difference of -2, but this time at least they scored a goal. And quite a nice one it was and Malouda will want to keep that in his scrapbook. They also outdid themselves in the uniquely Gallic sulking stakes. Whereas in Japan in 2002 they were merely grumpy, stroppy, miserable tossers, this time they’ve added a whole new contemptuous angle to their behaviour. The players it seems prefer their bling and sloppy-mouthed gangsta verbidge to actually training or playing or anything. They seem to have no shame. Henry performed another blatant handball takedown, hoping maybe for that to become his signature move in the luscious advertising filled world he will now inhabit now he has renounced football for socca. Dominatrix, meanwhile, showed that he genuinely has no class whatsoever by refusing to shake the South African manager’s hand after the match. So, winners in their own special way, the French have elevated being sporting c**ts to something of an art form. They cheated to get to South Africa and were miserable, unpleasant tossers the entire time they were there. Thank f**k they’re leaving on a jet plane this evening.

Uruguay 1 – 0 Mexico

Who’d a-thunk it? Two teams who only required a draw for both to go through produce a result with honest to goodness shots and goals and the like. Having spent the time watching the South Africa vs France match, I’ve no idea who started it but it seems like one of those playground arguments that got seriously out of hand – “Miss, Miss, he’s tooken my ruler”, “No I didunt”, “Cheater”, “Liar” etc – before the nuclear option of “Your Mum” is played by one of the little brats and things go massively downhill. Given that Uruguay would have topped the group if things stayed at 0 – 0 and thus avoided Argentina in the next round (which has to be the reason for this no draw score),  you have to think that it was Mexico who first employed the playground tactic of actually having a shot on target, after which the Uruguayans must have immediately dished out the “Your Mum” response and gone for goal. I can particularly see Diego Forlorn as the messy-haired belligerent toddler ever anxious to take offence an given his performance so far he’s a dangerous man to upset.

So Bye-Bye South Africa And France

Two teams who fundamentally weren’t good enough to get out of what was a eminently winnable Group. South Africa just weren’t given the breaks they needed by FIFA, France were just shocking.

34 Down 30 To Go 27 Teams Remaining

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