JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's priority is playing for honour and leaving the tournament with their heads held high rather than hoping for a miracle to reach the World Cup's next phase, midfielder Teko Modise said on Saturday.
"Qualification is not in our hands. It depends on the other results in our group," he told a news conference. "So for us the priority is rather about honour.
"We want to do well against France so that we leave the fans with something (positive) to remember us by.
"If it doesn't happen that we qualify, we want to leave the tournament with our heads held high."
The hosts nation's slim hopes depend on a big win over France in Bloemfontein on Tuesday at the conclusion of Group A, and there being a winner in the other group match between Mexico and Uruguay, being played in Rustenburg at the same time.
South Africa would then finish on four points, equal with the loser of the Mexico-Uruguay match, but need to score a lot to swing the goal difference equation in their favour.
Modise, who plays for Orlando Pirates and was South Africa's Footballer of the Year in 2008 and 2009, had been seen as one of the key players for the home side at the World Cup but said he had not met the expectations.
"I'd say I played a good second half against Mexico in our first game and if I'd scored we'd be telling a different story.
"We played poorly against Uruguay, we never got anything right on that night and let the people down. But we didn't go out to play bad," he added.
The hosts came into the World Cup on a wave of unprecedented expectations and overcame first half jitters to draw 1-1 with Mexico in the opening game on June 11.
But in midweek they were trounced 3-0 by Uruguay, effectively condemned to become the first host nation to fail to get past the first round at the finals.