Locals feel delicate the morning after night before

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PRETORIA - The car horns and vuvuzelas were silent on Thursday as broken-hearted South Africans digested their team's disappointing World Cup performance.

The overflowing bins on Pretoria's streets were signs of a good party but the strange quiet signalled the hangover from the 3-0 defeat by Uruguay that made it unlikely the hosts would progress to the knockout rounds.

"This team broke our hearts. We're in our own country," tutted waiter Brian Zikhale.

His brother Mzo nodded in agreement as behind them a couple of customers sipped strong coffee while masochistically watching a replay of the previous evening's match.

"We were supposed to win," said Mzo. "Bafana Bafana don't have fighting spirit. People are suffering now. Fewer people will watch the next game."

The stalls that had lined the streets the day before doing a brisk trade in 'plug-a-zela' earplugs had disappeared and customers would have no use for them for the first day since the tournament started.

"It's not going to be the same anymore," said Skhumbuzo Zwane, cleaning tables on one of the city's squares that had the previous day been bursting with people but was now empty.

"Bafana Bafana are going to get less support although I still have some hope."

Others had given up hope entirely, with parking attendant James Dlamin sporting a black, red and yellow Germany hat.

"They can't win, they don't know how to play football. All they know how to do is make this noise," he said miming the blowing of a vuvuzela.

"They are embarrassing. Germany will win the World Cup."

The Zikhale brothers said they would support another African team like Ghana or Ivory Coast if South Africa became the first host nation to fail to qualify from the group stage.

Headlines in the Sowetan newspaper declared "Agony" and "Nightmare", ruing " (Uruguay's double goalscorer Diego) Forlan, one-eyed referee and timid Bafana".

Despite the general gloom, there were still some fans who were more optimistic that South Africa could beat 2006 runners-up France in their final Group A game to stand a chance of progressing.

"Maybe we will beat France and then we will go far," said bar owner Alfred Mohlamonyane.

"I'm happy because they still have a chance - they will come back."

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