For South Africa, the joy of being the first African nation to host the World Cup is all but certain to be replaced by the sorrow of being the first host country to fail to reach the knockout round.
France, meanwhile, is careening towards the vast rebuild of a once-storied side as coach Raymond Domenech's tenure winds down.
The two sides, each with the slimmest of chances to reach the round of 16, meet Tuesday at Bloemfontein to complete Group A play.
The euphoria of opening the World Cup and gaining a point against Mexico in a 1-all draw June 11 for Bafana Bafana gave way to the crushing disappointment of a 3-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday. That left South Africa with a tremendous hurdle to overcome - defeat the 1998 champion and 2006 finalist by a large margin, and hope Mexico or Uruguay win in a rout or become the first host country left out of the knockout round.
``It will be a disaster for us, the home country, to go out in the first round,'' midfielder Steven Pienaar said.
The task will be made more difficult after goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was red carded in the 76th minute against Uruguay for tripping Luis Suarez, leading to Diego Forlan's penalty kick that made it 2-0.
In addition, midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi will sit after accumulating two yellow cards in the first two matches. Moneeb Josephs, who allowed a goal in the final 11 minutes after replacing Khune, likely will start for Bafana Bafana, while Surprise Moriri appears to be the frontrunner to fill Dikgacoi's midfield spot.
France has been a major disappointment. A listless offense that failed to score in either match - most recently a 2-0 defeat to Mexico on Thursday - gave way to infighting. Mercurial striker Nicolas Anelka was thrown off the team Saturday after refusing to apologize following a heated argument with Domenech at halftime of the loss to Mexico.
On Sunday, director Jean-Louis Valentin said the team refused to train in protest of Anelka's dismissal before announcing his resignation from the federation.
"It's a scandal for the French, for the young people here. It's a scandal for the federation and the French team,'' Valentin said. "It's unacceptable. As for me, it's over. I'm leaving the federation. I'm sickened and disgusted."
Amid that chaos, Thierry Henry could make his final start with Les Bleus. In the same situation as South Africa with one point through two matches, this could also be the farewell match for Domenech, who will give way to Laurent Blanc following the World Cup.
Domenech, whose eccentric nature has at times bewildered and infuriated fans and players, has seen France backslide since losing in penalty kicks to Italy in 2006. Les Bleus were ousted in group play in the 2008 European Championships, and Henry's controversial handball in a playoff versus Ireland contributed heavily to qualify for South Africa.