A despondent South African cricket team returned home after a shocking quarterfinal exit from the World Cup with the media in Johannesburg slamming it, saying that the 'chokers' tag would stick to the side for a long time to come.
South African newspapers lambasted the team for its repeated failure to handle pressure after the Proteas lost by 49 runs to underdogs New Zealand in the World Cup quarterfinals.
"What a choke!" said the
"Horrible! Super-chokers do it again," read the headline in Afrikaans-language
"More mental meltdown misery as Kiwis klap (smack) SA out of World Cup."
A photograph of outgoing skipper Graeme Smith was captioned, "Horror as Proteas choke again."
The Proteas arrived home late last night but there was no statement for the waiting fans as the players were hurriedly whisked away to a nearby hotel ahead of a planned press conference on Sunday morning.
A small number of fans keenly awaited the arrival of the team, saying they were not concerned about their idols being dubbed chokers by many.
"Our boys did us proud by taking us this far anyway and they did their best. I will still support them all the way," said Neels Vermaak, sporting the familiar green and gold shirt of the Proteas and waving a huge South African flag.
Moments later Vermaak was disappointed as he failed to try to get an autograph from team members.
In the suburb of Fordsburg in Johannesburg, where hundreds of South African Indians traditionally join Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals on Saturday nights to enjoy the night dining and shopping facilities, there were mixed feelings.
South African fans were critical of the Proteas, but the many sub-continental fans, who are following the World Cup on large TV screens set up outside restaurants and shops, were not too concerned.
"Now it's going to be India and Pakistan," Ahmed Salim, from Pakistan, said confidently as he fried
At a stall selling Bollywood DVD's and music, Rajiv Patel was surrounded by friends watching a replay of the South Africa-New Zealand game, breaking into sporadic applause and loud comments in Gujarati every few minutes, much to the amusement of the hordes of shoppers in the surrounding areas.
The South African team is expected to come under heavy fire at the press conference, but in Fordsburg, the misery will be forgotten within a day, as the Indo-Pak semifinal becomes the talk of the town.