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Old 06-23-10, 04:37 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
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Mark Bechtel: Soaking up the World Cup experience

GUGULETHU, South Africa -- The match seemed meaningless outside of its value as a curiosity. South Africa entered Tuesday's game against a hilariously imploding France team needing an implausible string of results to advance to the knockout stages; Bafana Bafana had to beat Les Bleus and hope the other Group A match, between Uruguay and Mexico, didn't end in a draw. And the South Africans had to somehow make up a five-goal deficit. The odds of advancing were so remote. the morning papers understandably opted to push a patronizing message, the same one the parents of bad Little Leaguers whisper in their kids' ears: Just try hard, honey, that's all that really matters. "Let's bow out gracefully and take pride in being great hosts," blared a headline on the op-ed page of the Cape Times. The editorial next to it read, "The chances of [South Africa] getting through to the next round -- even against a France team in disarray -- seem remote, but it would be a tonic for all South Africans were they able to walk away from the game with their heads held high."

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