With a 3-0 loss to Uruguay, Wednesday, the South African Lions must play for a miracle against France in their final group stage game, if they are not to become the first host nation to fail to progress from the group stages since its introduction back in 1950. And to make things really tough, South Africa will have to do so without suspended midfielder Dikgachoiits and first choice keeper, Khune.
Whilst Uruguay never looked under threat, the 3-0 scoreline could have been quite different had Luis Suarez, the Uruguayan brought down in the box at 1-0, resulting both in Khune’s sending off and the penalty which doubled Uruguay’s lead, been ruled offside, as seemed the case in the replay, thanks to the slight deflection which took the ball to Suarez’s feet as the defence chased out.
Admittedly, a really difficult call for the referee to make but since South Africa, as hosts, will have spent hundreds of millions building stadia and improving infrastructure, the South African Football Association may well be lamenting FIFA’s reluctance to spend a little more on the tv replay evidence which in either confirming the offside, or not, would at least have ensured the Fair Play FIFA boasts of and even awards trophies for, was seen to be being upheld.
Had South Africa lost only 1-0, the Lions would be going into next Tuesday’s game against France with the hope of even a scraped win taking them through and would have their first choice keeper helping them do it rather than only a prayer for the miracle victory they now, desperately, need.
Lets hope South Africans will make good use of their wonderful new stadia and not let them rot as China reportedly intends to let happen with its $400 million plus 2008 showpiece, the Birds Nest National Stadium.