The South African media has praised Bafana Bafana's bittersweet exit from this year's FIFA World Cup™, after they upset France in a 2-1 victory but failed to reach the Round of 16.
"What a grand exit!" read the headline in The Times, over a large photo of team captain Aaron Mokoena raising his hands in thanks to the crowd in Bloemfontein following yesterday's match. "Bafana might be out of the World Cup, but their 2-1 win over France did us proud," the paper said.
The Sowetan called the national team "heroes", Business Day praised their "gallant effort" and The Star called their performance "gutsy".
"Bafana have done something beyond any scoreline or group table... they have helped unite this nation," said an editorial in The Citizen.
South Africa ended the first round with four points, tied for second place in Group A, but lost out to Mexico on goal difference and failed to reach the second round.
South Africa is the first host nation not to advance past the first round, a cause for much disappointment among fans. The Citizen featured a photo of two sad faces painted with the national flag, while The Sowetan showed a crying fan with the caption 'Sad goodbye'.
But local media urged the country to continue its FIFA World Cup celebration. "The game is still on," said The Citizen. "FIFA 2010 fever is still in the air. You can feel it."
"We won a game against France today but the real winner was our country," President Jacob Zuma said after the match. "South Africa is the bigger winner by hosting the World Cup."