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Bafana Hope to Avoid Shame in World Cup Clash With France

Published on Tuesday 22nd June 2010

South Africa's last chance of avoiding the ignominy of being the first World Cup hosts in history to go out in the first round is against France in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

But even if Bafana achieve the unlikely and handsomely beat the splintered French, there is still no guarantee of progress to the knockout phase.

They must also hope that the result of the match between Group A leaders Mexico and Uruguay is not a stalemate. However, a contrived draw would seem a likely prospect in that game, as it would put both teams on five points each and through to the last 16.

France are in supposed disarray after a player strike on Sunday and the expulsion from the squad of lead striker Nicolas Anelka, who swore at coach Raymond Domenech at halftime during the 2-0 defeat to Mexico last Thursday.

But South African coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has warned that his team could face a backlash from the French players, keen to prove a point on the field after the histrionics off it.

Of the crisis in the French camp, which looked to be over on Monday as they trained in Knysna before heading for Bloemfontein, the Bafana Bafana coach said: "We know that the French have had longstanding problems in their camp, even from before the World Cup. But what has happened over the last two days, we don't expect to carry over to the pitch.

"When the French players enter the field, they will be watched by the whole world. They know it is important to win. We expect France to come out and play."

Parreira promised five changes in his side for Tuesday's game, two of which are already known. Moeneeb Josephs comes in for the suspended Itumeleng Khune in goal and Kagisho Dikgacoi is out of midfield, to be replaced by either Thanduyise Khuboni or MacBeth Sibaya.

But three more changes could mean the dropping of Steven Pienaar from midfield and possibly the inclusion of veteran Siyabonga Nomvete, now in the autumn of his career but given a revival before the start of the World Cup.

South Africa will qualify only if there is a result in the Mexico-Uruguay match, and Bafana Bafana exceed all expectations and win comfortably against France to overturn a negative goal difference.

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