SA media praise Bafana
Johannesburg - South African media on Wednesday praised national side Bafana Bafana's bittersweet exit from the Soccer World Cup after the host team upset France in a 2-1 victory, but failed to reach the second round.
"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 Tuesday'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 score line or FIFA group table... they have helped unite this nation," said an editorial in The Citizen.
Bafana Bafana 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.
Most newspapers also noted that French coach Raymond Domenech did not shake hands with South African coach Alberto Parreira after the match.
South Africa is the first host nation not to advance past the group matches, 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 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."