|Cameroon's Stephane Mbia sits dejected after their exit to Denmark in Pretoria [GALLO/GETTY]
Cameroon's Indomitable Lions saw their World Cup dream shattered on Saturday, compounding Africans' disappointment with their teams so far at
the continent's first staging of the tournament.
African footballer of the year Samuel Eto'o put a slick-looking Cameroon ahead before Denmark scored twice to win the Group E match 2-1.
That meant the West Africans cannot progress, even though they have another game left, while Netherlands are the first side to be sure of a second round berth.
The Dutch beat Japan 1-0 earlier on Saturday for their second win and six points in Group E.
Yet given their abundance of great strike power, it was still a disappointing display.
The victory came thanks to yet another goalkeeping blunder in the tournament, this time by Japan's Eiji Kawashima.
He misjudged the flight of a belting shot from Wesley Sneijder.
"I would love to win with beautiful football, but you've got to deal with organised opponents," Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk said.
Apart from Netherlands, it has been a tough World Cup so far for Europe's traditional football powers.
Anelka sent home
Things turned considerably worse for one of them, France, on Saturday, when striker Nicolas Anelka – once dubbed "Le Sulk" – was sent home for indiscipline.
The 31-year-old was kicked out of the squad for insulting coach Raymond Domenech and refusing to apologise in the wake of France's disastrous defeat to Mexico.
"Unless I detach my arm and put it somewhere else there is no way I can move my arm"
Harry Kewell, Australia forward
"The comments made by Nicolas Anelka are totally unacceptable and it was normal for us to take such a decision," French Football Federation head Jean-Pierre Escalettes said.
Les Bleus have just one point from two games and are on the verge of elimination, but they are not alone among Europe's big teams.
Germany have lost to Serbia, Spain were upset by the Swiss, and England and Italy have only managed draws.
Another hot-tempered striker, England's Wayne Rooney, was not punished like Anelka but did issue an apology on Saturday for his sarcastic rant against fans who booed his team off the pitch after Friday night's abject 0-0 draw with Algeria.
"I said things in the heat of the moment that came out of frustration," said Rooney, 24, who was savaged by Britain's unforgiving media for his poor performance and outburst.
Ghana are the only African team to have won at the continent's first World Cup and went top of Group D with a 1-1 draw on Saturday against an Australia side cursing their luck.
Kewell suggests amputation
Socceroos' talisman Tim Cahill was sent off in the opening 4-0 defeat to Germany, and it was deja vu when striker Harry Kewell was shown red for a handball on the line that looked harsh from TV replays.
Ghana scored from the spot to equalise.
"Unless I detach my arm and put it somewhere else there is no way I can move my arm," a frustrated Kewell said.
"If we showed our true feelings, I'm quite sure we'd be fined, so we've just got to take it on the chin."
Ghana's decent showing will temper disappointment at Cameroon's performance, though there will be an inquest in the Indomitable Lions' camp now given dissent from senior players over coach Paul Le Guen's team selection in their first game.
Africa's poor tournament and the failure of Europe's big teams to impose themselves contrasts with a charge by Latin American sides led by Diego Maradona's Argentina.
The big stage seems to bring the best out of the coach both as player and manager, putting his chequered past of drug abuse behind him.
So exuberant and hands-on is Maradona that he joins in training – and even wins the hit-the-crossbar competition.
Sadly for organisers, local passion for the World Cup seems to be dwindling.
South Africa's faltering performances have left the Bafana Bafana team with one point after two games and facing the indignity of being the first World Cup hosts eliminated in the opening round of their own party.
That, and the bitter winter cold, has left fan-parks virtually empty.
"Without Bafana Bafana, I am losing heart, I cannot cry for joy any more," said Siswe Nyantumbo, a cleaner at the Soccer City stadium where the July 11 final will be played.