Captain Patrice Evra admits it feels like France are a "small football nation - and it hurts" after they lurched towards the verge of early FIFA World Cup™ elimination with a 2-0 defeat to Mexico in Polokwane.
Second-half goals from Evra's soon-to-be Manchester United team-mate Javier Hernandez and veteran striker Cuauhtemoc Blanco, from the penalty spot, put their side level on four points with Uruguay at the top of Group A - three points ahead of France and South Africa. A draw between Mexico and Uruguay in their final match would put the 1998 champions and 2006 runners-up out.
"It's a catastrophe, that's all we can say. We are not a great team," said Evra, who was part of the side which suffered an early exit at UEFA EURO 2008. "When you are knocked out of the European championship in the first round and you are also capable of being knocked out in the first round of the World Cup, you just don't want to think about football after that.
"I honestly didn't see it coming. What hurts is that we didn't know how to react, or how to equalise, and then they killed us with that second goal. I am deeply upset, I'm disgusted. We owe it to ourselves to beat South Africa. But as for miracles, I don't believe in them too much."
Under-fire coach Raymond Domenech said: "I'm lost for words. It's a real disappointment for those who believed in us. We did try but there was always something that didn't work. There's one match left. We'll play for pride and hope for a miracle. We needed a draw to keep our fate in our hands and couldn't get it."
Domenech dropped midfielder Yoann Gourcuff in favour of Chelsea's Florent Malouda as he tinkered with the formation after last week's goalless draw with Uruguay. The Bordeaux midfielder, who watched the entire game from the bench, was scathing in his assessment. "We couldn't pass the ball properly, they closed us down straight away," he said. "I'm very, very disappointed. It has been a collective failure over the two games. Football is hard when you can't play together. Perhaps I have paid the price, I don't know. I've not had any explanations."
Hernandez followed in the footsteps of his grandfather Tomas Balcazar, who scored for Mexico against France in the 1954 FIFA World Cup. "I remembered my grandfather in the locker-room," he said. Mexico coach Javier Aguirre added: "It was very important to beat France - they are after all the vice-world champions (referring to their 2006 final defeat to Italy). "We turned in a very fine performance - but we are not yet mathematically through."