Host nation South Africa will face a French side in disarray in their final group match on Tuesday with both sides knowing their fate is out of their hands but hoping for a miracle.
The Bafana Bafana crashed to a 3-0 defeat against Uruguay in their second group game following an opening day draw with Mexico, leaving them rooted at the bottom of Group A with a single point and a minus-three goal difference. France, finalists in 2006, have flopped in South Africa, suffering a miserable 2-0 reverse against Mexico following a goalless draw with Uruguay, with French coach Raymond Domenech admitting: "We need a miracle now."
French woes deepened Saturday when they kicked star striker Nicolas Anelka out of the FIFA World Cup™ after a foul-mouthed tirade aimed at Domenech. There is sure to be fervent support for the host nation at Bloemfontein's Free State stadium but even if the Bafana Bafana win, it could prove to be irrelevant.
That is because if Mexico and Uruguay play out a draw in their match in Rustenburg, which takes place at the same time as the France-South Africa clash, the Latin American sides would progress. But France and South Africa will take hope from the fact that Mexico and Uruguay will be keen to avoid facing the impressive Argentinians in the last 16 - the likely fate for the runners-up in group A.
South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said: "There is respect for the French, but we do not fear them. We want to play well and finish the competition in style by winning."
Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar said the South Africans had tried to put the pain of their 3-0 defeat behind them. "It is normal for a professional footballer to be disappointed after losing a game, but you have to forget about it," he said.