KNYSNA - France have become a small footballing nation, captain Patrice Evra honestly summed up after a 2-0 defeat by Mexico left the 1998 champions in great danger of leaving the World Cup after the group stage.
France, who looked lost in Polokwane on Thursday, have one Group A match left, against South Africa on Tuesday in Bloemfontein, but could be sent packing even if they win it.
Uruguay and Mexico, heading the group with four points each, would advance with a draw and knock out in the process France and the hosts, both on one point from two games.
France, who were bad in their opening 0-0 draw with Uruguay and worse against Mexico, only have themselves to blame, said left back Evra, who has taken over the armband from Thierry Henry at this tournament.
"We feel like a small footballing nation and it hurts", Evra said after an embarrassing display from the 2006 World Cup runners-up.
"There's nothing to say other than it's a catastrophe," he added.
To make matters worse, the early exit now looming large would be the second in a row for France at a major tournament after their Euro 2008 flop.
"I really thought we had learned the lessons from 2008," Evra said. "I didn't see this defeat coming. I'm dejected."
Evra had said just a day before the match against Mexico that he felt France were united and could go places at this World Cup.
"The problem is that we are not a great team on the pitch," he said after finding out he had probably been wrong.
The atmosphere in the squad may not have been as good as players have kept repeating in recent weeks, the France captain suggested.
"I'm not going to tell you what I think went wrong," he said. "I'll tell those involved first."
Nervous at the back, short of ideas in midfield and harmless up front, France looked a pale shadow of their brilliant best and never suggested they could make an impact as this World Cup, nor did they behave as a team.
Coach Raymond Domenech, who has faced criticism from fans and media for years and will be replaced by Laurent Blanc after the tournament, was lost for words when asked to explain what had gone wrong.
"At the moment we feel a lot of disappointment and sadness," said Domenech. "We have a tiny chance left and we must take it, if only to show that we can react from this."
France, Evra also said, still had their battered pride to fight for and would try at least to win a match.
"We must beat South Africa, if only for pride," he said. "As for miracles, personally, I don't believe in them too much."comments