Host nation South Africa is on the brink of being eliminated from the World Cup following a 3-0 loss to Uruguay Wednesday in Group A action in Pretoria.
The main storyline
South Africa's World Cup hopes lie in ruin.
After earning a well-deserved 1-1 draw with Mexico in its opening match, the Bafana Bafana looked lacklustre against the South Americans, never asserting itself after conceding the lead midway through the first half.
When goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was red carded in the 76th minute for his foul on Uruguay's Luis Suarez inside the box, it was all over. Backup goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs was called into action, but Diego Forlan blasted a perfect penalty shot into the roof of the net to seal the win for the South Americans.
The penalty call was contentious — Suarez made the most of it, and the play was offside — but South Africa can have no complaaints about the final result because they lost to a better team. Alvaro Pereira scored in injury time to compound South Africa's misery
While Uruguay seems destined for the second round, South Africa is on the verge of becoming the first World Cup host not to make it out of the group stage.
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South Africa faces a must-win situation in its final game against France on June 22 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 9:30 a.m. ET). Anything less than a victory against Les Bleus for the hosts would condemn them to the annals of World Cup history, for the wrong reason.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez is to be complimented for his attacking intentions. After watching his team battle to a 0-0 draw against France, Tabarez fielded an offensive lineup with three strikers — Forlan, Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
The move paid off, as the trio gave the South African defenders fits, while also acting as the first line of defence when the hosts launched forward in attack.
The winning goal
Forlan settled the match in the 24th minute with a spectacular goal. The Atletico Madrid forward collected the ball inside the South African half and made a nice move before unleashing a gorgeous shot from 30 yards out. Forlan's effort took a slight deflection off the back of South Africa's Aaron Mokoena before clipping the underside of the crossbar and dipping into the back of the net.
Turning point of the game
South Africa was pretty sharp from the opening kickoff, but Forlan's goal knocked the life out of the team as Uruguay took control of the match.
What this result means
With four points, Uruguay sits alone in first place in Group A, but that could change on Thursday, depending on what happens in the France-Mexico game. The South Americans can clinch a second-round berth with a win in their final match of the round, against Mexico. Even a draw might be enough to see Uruguay advance.
The Bafana Bafana need to defeat France in its last first-round match in order to have a shot at moving on to the round of 16. A loss would eliminate the South Africans from the tournament.
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Man of the match
Who else, but Forlan? After being shut out by France, the Uruguay goal-scoring machine broke the hearts of South African players and their legion of fans.
Goal of the match
Forlan's spectacular first-half effort deflected off Mokoena, but the Uruguayan showed great technique and confidence in attempting a shot from that considerable distance.
The Uruguayan perspective
"Obviously, as a forward I like to score goals, but the important thing is to win. The team is good. We also played well against France. We're very solid." — forward Diego Forlan
The South African perspective
"Everything will be decided in the last game." coach Carlos Alberto Parreira
South Africa takes on France in Bloemfontein on June 22 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 9:30 a.m. ET), while Uruguay meets Mexico on the same day in Rustenburg (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 9:30 a.m. ET).