SA’s hopes crushed

2010-06-17 00:00

BAFANA Bafana froze in the cold that has swept Gauteng in a deflating 3-0 defeat to Uruguay at Loftus in Pretoria last night, and now have only a slim chance of progressing past Group A of the 2010 World Cup.

Bafana are not out of the competition, but will now have to beat ninth-ranked France in Bloemfontein on Tuesday to stand any chance of reaching the second round.

An ideal situation for Bafana would be for France and Mexico to draw in tomorrow night’s Group A game in Polokwane, then for Uruguay to beat Mexico in those teams’ final game, also on Tuesday.

If South Africa did manage an unlikely win against the French, this would leave Bafana second in the group to Uruguay, and qualified for the second round.

There are other permutations, too, though last night’s heavy defeat will not help South Africa’s chances in terms of goal difference.

Last night Bafana were far removed from the team that rallied, after a shaky first-half perfor­mance, to heroically match 17th-ranked Mexico in the World Cup opening game in a 1-1 draw at Soccer City on Friday.

Confronted by a robust approach from the 16th-ranked Uruguayans, the South Africans froze in attack, and a shaky defence was not aided by some questionable decisions by Swiss referee Massimo Busacca.

This included a dubious penalty awarded with 14 minutes to go, and red card to goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, from which Uruguay stri­ker Diego Forlan scored his side’s second goal to effectively kill off the game.

Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira slammed the perfor­mance of the referee, who the Brazilian claimed “left the field smiling”.

“I could not see [the red card and penalty] properly because there were some players in front of us. But we are very annoyed and disappointed with the referee,” he said.

“Myself and everybody else said he was the worst referee in this competition so far. He looked very unfair from the very beginning, giving yellow cards that shouldn’t be, and the way he behaved against our team. And then he left the ground with a big smile. I hope he will not behave like this in any other game and I hope we will not see his face in another game, because he probably does not deserve to be here.”

Parreira did concede that his side were ultimately outclassed.

“I said before, they [Uruguay] have all their players play in big European teams. They have the experience playing at this level.

Bafana will struggle to lift themselves to beat France after such a resounding defeat.

“Of course, nobody is happy,” Parreira said of his players’ mood in the dressing room. “Especially after a 3-0 that I don’t think was a fair reflection of the game. Of course, everyone’s disappointed and upset, but I told them the competition is not finished yet. Whatever happens in these two games, today and tomorrow [between Mexico and France], the group will be decided in the last round of matches.”

Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena said the side were naively thrown out of rhythm by Uruguay’s robust approach. “For us it’s about going back to the drawing board. We have got to show a belief.

“Today I felt that, in the first 10 or 15 minutes, Uruguay really provoked us and we stopped playing our football.

“We were all aware about how they play and what they intended doing to us. And perhaps we were a bit naive.”

Asked if he feels last night’s defeat will affect the wave of support that has been behind Bafana, Mokoena replied: “The most important thing for us is to forget what happened tonight. We had great support. We still have great support. It’s important to move on from what happened tonight.”

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