Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup 2010: South Africa 0-3 Uruguay: Host Exits as Vuvuzelas Are Silenced

South Africa is practically out of the World Cup. Beaten 3-0 by a disciplined Uruguay side in the Loftus Versfield Stadium, the hopes and prayers—not to mention the vuvuzuelas—of a nation were silenced by a Diego Forlan led side who were in no mood for sentimentality.
Having grown into the opening match against Mexico, South Africa were treated to a lesson in organisation and discipline, as Uruguay held the hosts at arm's length for the entire game.

Alvaro Pereira scored in injury time while Diego Forlan added a brace, including a clinically taken penalty in the 80th minute after Bafana Bafana's goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune took Luis Suarez down with a clumsy challenge on the edge of the six-yard box with the striker bearing down on goal.
Swiss referee, Massimo Busacca, favourite to take the World Cup Final on July 11, was left with the only decision he could take and sent Khune off, leaving South Africa's hopes in tatters.
The host country were stunned. Their manager, Carlos Parreira, looked on helplessly and seemed oblivious to the fact that he had to get another keeper onto the pitch. When he did finally make a decision, Steven Pienaar, somewhat amazingly, was the player he chose to sacrifice.
In truth, the difference between the two sides was vast.
Uruguay were head and shoulders above naive South Africa, and from the outside, it looks as if the home country found the added pressure of playing in South African Rugby's spiritual home too much.
Anything that could go wrong did, and the home side collapsed under the expectation of their fans.
They were all over the place, and they made the game far too easy for the South Americans, who stroked the ball around as if it was a training match. They never got close enough to even make a serious challenge on the pitch, never mind challenging for the match, and their passing was wayward at best.
Uruguay dominated midfield to such an extent that South Africa visibly wilted against their formidable opponents. Pereira's growing reputation as a tigerish midfielder was done no harm at all.
To put it another way: South Africa's first shot at goal, never mind on goal, came in the 68th minute—such was Uruguay's suffocating play.
Simply put: South Africa, ranked 83rd in the world, will become the first ever hosts to exit the tournament before the knockout stages.
With their final game against France, you would have to think that Les Bleus would be a bridge too far...
For South Africa to qualify, they need France to draw tomorrow with Mexico. Then they would need Uruguay to either draw or beat Mexico before they beat Les Bleus in their final game.
An unlikely run of results, but not impossible...
As Forlan's expert penalty smashed into the top corner, the Loftus Versfield Stadium started emptying, and with it, all the good will that Bafana Bafana had taken from its people evaporated.
Many had predicted that the hosts would exit the tournament at the group stage of the World Cup.
With stadiums showing as many as 15,000 empty seats, FIFA must have a very real worry that the home crowd might vanish from the tournament completely, vuvuzuelas and all...