World Cup: South Africa falls to Uruguay 3-0 as fans quiet
AP Sports Writer
PRETORIA, South Africa – Uruguay’s Diego Forlan scored two goals in a 3-0 victory Wednesday night that pushed host South Africa to the verge of not advancing at the World Cup.
While Forlan greatly improved his country’s chances of making the second round, Bafana Bafana almost certainly must beat France in its next game. Otherwise, South Africa will be the first host nation to fail to get out of the opening round.
Forlan scored on a deflected 25-yard shot in the 24th minute, then converted a penalty kick in the 80th minute for a commanding lead. Alvaro Pereira added a goal in stoppage time.
Making matters worse, South Africa goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was ejected by Swiss referee Massimo Busacca in the 76th minute for clipping the leg of Luis Suarez as the forward jumped over him in front of an open net. Khune lowered his head to the ground and angrily pounded the field with both fists.
Backup Moneeb Josephs took over in goal as star midfielder Steven Pienaar exited.
Forlan put the penalty kick over the goalkeeper’s outstretched right hand for his second goal, matching his pair for Atletico Madrid against Fulham in last month’s Europa League final.
The constant bee-like noise from the vuvuzelas immediately ebbed, and some disappointed fans started exiting, leaving thousands of empty blue seats by the time Pereira knocked in Suarez’s cross.
Uruguay, which opened with a 0-0 draw against France, has four points going into its group-play finale against Mexico on Tuesday. South Africa wasted a second-half lead in a 1-1 tie against Mexico in last week’s World Cup opener, and has one point. It plays France on Tuesday in Bloemfontein.
The situation will become a little clearer Thursday when Mexico meets Les Bleus.
South Africa midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi also will be suspended for the France match after getting a yellow card for the second straight game. He received it for fouling Suarez in the 42nd minute.
Fans were on the streets of Pretoria for hours before the match. It was a national holiday, Youth Day, commemorating the 34th anniversary of the Soweto uprising, when students protested an apartheid-era government order to make Afrikaans the main language in secondary schools.
Loftus Versfeld, a rugby stadium on ground that’s been used for sports in Pretoria since 1906, was filled with shivering fans of Bafana Bafana. On an unseasonably cold night, with a 40-degree temperature, they wore their yellow jerseys over winter jackets and many covered their heads with caps in yellow and green, or the green, yellow, black, red and blue of the flag multiracial South Africa adopted in 1994.
Uruguay went ahead when Forlan’s shot that hit South Africa captain Aaron Mokeona on his shoulder and looped over Khune.
The closest South Africa came to scoring was in the 66th minute, when Katlego Mphela’s close-range header off a cross at the near post was off-target, Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera got the shutout on his 24th birthday.