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A sad goodbye to Bafana Bafana

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Ben Sutherland Ben Sutherland | 20:02 UK time, Tuesday, 22 June 2010

southafricafan386.jpgSo, in the end, even a win over the pre-tournament group favourites France was not enough to save South Africa from the ignominy of being the first host nation to go out of the World Cup at the group stage.

It looked likely beforehand that this would be goodbye Bafana Bafana, with Uruguay and Mexico only needing to play out a draw to make sure both went through.

But Uruguay went for it and scored a 1-0 win over the Mexicans, meaning that South Africa had a chance if they scored enough goals against a France team tearing itself apart.

But after going 2-0 up against ten men, Bafana Bafana missed three good second-half opportunities - Mpela hitting the post - before Florent Malouda scored his and France's first goal of the tournament.

And it was that moment that deflated the stadium, the vuvuzelas falling quiet for the first time in the tournament. Both teams played out the last 20 minutes in the knowledge they were their last moments in the 2010 World Cup.

But love or hate their vuvuzelas - and that's another debate entirely - the South African fans have been brilliant.

Ever since World Cup Have Your Say began on the night before the big kick-off, their fans have been an intergral part of the show - and although they will of course retain their interest in the competition as a whole, the fact that Bafana Bafana are no longer involved will undoubtedly be a loss.

It is a pity - although not an entirely unexpected one - that South Africa fell at the group stage.
After going 1-0 up in their first match against Mexico, the fact they were pegged back by Marquez's goal, followed by their crushing defeat to Uruguay, really did the damage.

They did avoid finishing bottom of Group A - that fate befalling France - but had they been able to match the efforts of their fans, South Africa would surely have topped their group.

Did they do as well as could be expected, or should they have been better? What do you think ultimately led to their exit?

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