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Uruguay Blanks South Africa, Swiss Shock Spain in World Cup

Switzerland's Gelson Fernandes (center) celebrates after scoring against  Spain in Durban, 16 jun 2010
Switzerland's Gelson Fernandes (center) celebrates after scoring against Spain in Durban, 16 jun 2010

On a day at football's World Cup when world No. 2 Spain was upset by Switzerland, host South Africa suffered a 3-0 loss to Uruguay.  

South Africa and Uruguay were the first teams to play their second matches of the month-long tournament.  Both had battled to draws in their Group A openers - South Africa had drawn 1-1 against Mexico and Uruguay had played to a scoreless draw against France.  So all four teams were tied with one point.

That meant the winner of the South Africa-Uruguay match would take the group lead and a big step toward advancing to the second round.  And it was Uruguay that prevailed, 3-0.

Diego Forlan was the big star for Uruguay.  It was his 24th-minute long distance strike that temporarily silenced the blaring vuvuzelas of the partisan home crowd in Pretoria.  Then he successfully converted a penalty kick in the 80th minute, a result of a red card against South African goalkeeper (Itumeleng Khune) for tripping an opponent near the goal.

Playing a man down the rest of the way gave the South Africans little chance to rally and they yielded the third goal to Alvaro Pereira on a close-in header in the dying moments of the match.

South African fan Sibusisu said the loss was quite disappointing. "We expected the boys to win.  And after everything that the country has gone through in supporting them and doing everything possible that they must win, because they had the 12th player which is fans.  But then, for them to lose like that it was very disappointing," the fan said.

Another South African fan, Noziphu said she felt fans she has met from everywhere have been routing for her home team. "All of the countries they were wishing for South Africa to win, but South Africa lost, so we don't know what to do now.  We don't know. Ayeeesh!  We are very disappointed," she said.

Sibusisu said his heart bleeds for his team so he hopes the South Africans can get a better result in their final Group match next week. "It's so sad.  It's so sad at the end of the day, yeah.  It's so sad wearing this T-shirt and thinking you know what, I'm a South African for life, and I will go all-out to support the boys.  But this game is gone, so let's focus on the next game which is France," he said.

That match is next Tuesday in Bloemfontein.

Before that, though, France plays Mexico Thursday night in Polokwane. That result will give a clearer picture of what South Africa will need in its final match to reach the second round.

Earlier Wednesday in Group H, Switzerland shocked world number-two Spain, 1-0, on a goal by Gelson Fernandes in the 52nd minute.  It's only the second loss Spain has suffered in its last 50 matches.

In the other Group H match, another low-scoring affair, Chile edged Honduras, 1-0, on a goal by Jean Beausejour in the 34th minute.  It was Chile's first World Cup victory in 48 years.

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