Team France was put out of its misery today with a listless 2-1 loss to host nation South Africa in Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein. In what has to be the most shambolic collapse since Phidippides ran the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens, Les Blues were sent packing after enduring tantrums, a coach with Mousse aux Cèpes for brains, a Director of Football Operations with the temperament of the runway model and a line drawn in the sand that was almost hilarious in it’s timing except that the French team was actually representing its country.
The Lions went ahead after twenty minutes when France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris completely misplayed Siphiwe Tshabalala’s corner. The Lions were further buoyed by the news from Rustenburg that Uruguay had taken a lead against Mexico. But South African hope of advancing to the final 16 depended on Mexico conceding at least two more goals, and the Lions needed to net a few more against the farcical French side. As disinterested as France looked on the field, and despite seeing Yohann Gourcuff dismissed just before the break, Bafana Bafana ran out of gas and couldn’t put the numbers up required to move on in the tournament.
And so the French team, with their heads held . . . well, with their heads, skulks out of Africa with the knowledge that they managed, in less than three days, to make themselves figures of international ridicule. The team flight back to France will either be the most somber affair since the flight back from Dallas in 1963, or it will be a 35,000 foot version of the Rolling Thunder Review, in French, with fewer hallucinogens, better meat and drink, and a sense of dread at what awaits them.