When South African president Jacob Zuma opened the World Cup on June 11, he proudly said Africa was happy.

They were more than that. They were delirious. It was a time to celebrate being African.

Locals are still largely happy - after all, the World Cup is still going on - but something is missing with the failure of African teams to do well at this tournament.

This morning, South Africa were finally eliminated, becoming the first host nation to fail to advance to the second round in the history of the World Cup despite a 2-1 win over 1998 champions France. The party continues but it's like someone is serving warm, flat beer - it's a bit hard to stomach.

It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Bafana Bafana are the second-lowest ranked team at this tournament (ahead of only North Korea) and their players faced the additional burden of unrealistic expectations and pressure.

Having gone into the World Cup on the back of a 12-game unbeaten run, many South Africans truly believed they were destined to win the whole thing. That was totally unrealistic.

The fact only seven nations have ever won the World Cup since the first in 1930 - Brazil, Italy, Germany, England, Argentina, France and Uruguay - illustrates just how hard it is to lift the trophy. Even footballing powerhouses like Spain and the Netherlands have failed to work out the winning formula, although there's widespread hope that might change this time around.

While none of the African sides loomed as realistic winners before the tournament kicked off, they were expected to make more of an impact than they have in South Africa. It certainly won't please them that all five South American sides were topping their groups after the first two rounds.

Cameroon, South Africa and Nigeria, who drew 2-2 with South Korea in Durban this morning, have already been eliminated and Algeria and the Ivory Coast are hanging on by the tip of a vuvuzela. Even if they go through, it's unlikely they will go very far.

Ghana is Africa's best hope but, again, they don't loom as serious contenders. They might not even make the last 16 with a difficult game against three-time World Cup winners Germany tomorrow morning (NZT) and they must avoid defeat in that match.

When a Roger Milla-inspired Cameroon stunned the world in 1990 by making the quarterfinals of the World Cup, many believed it would be just a matter of time before an African nation won the tournament for the first time. Now, 20 years later, they seem further away.

It's a massive shame. This country has embraced the tournament and there's a wonderful sense of national pride that has bubbled to the surface, and not just through the blare of a vuvuzela. The excitement around South Africa is palpable but they also whole-heartedly support any African side.

One of the biggest failings is the speed with which people turn at the first sign of trouble. South Africa went from potential world champions, in the eyes of South Africans and local media, to a side worthy of being pilloried after the 3-0 defeat to Uruguay.

Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, once seen as the saviour, was instantly portrayed as the villain in the same way his predecessor Joel Santana was and the national association was attacked for its supposed short-sightedness.

This morning's win over a shameful and shocking French side who have imploded like few before them will lift spirits but the brutal reality is they are out.

The dream is over. And the tournament is worse for it.