South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira expressed his pride in his players after a 2-1 win over France was not enough to keep the hosts in the World Cup.
The Bafana Bafana headed into the final game in Group A needing to beat France and requiring a favour from Uruguay's clash with Mexico to have any chance of reaching the last 16.
Goals from Bongani Khumalo and Katlego Mphela had given South Africa a 2-0 lead, while their cause was boosted as Mexico trailed 1-0 to Uruguay at half-time.
Another goal in each match would have been enough to carry South Africa through to the knockout phase, but a goal 20 minutes from time by France substitute Florent Malouda shattered home hearts.
The results ensured that South Africa became the first host country to fail to progress beyond the first round, but Parreira was nevertheless proud of the efforts of his team.
"I am proud of the boys," said Parreira. "They made this country proud.
"They proved their good progression."
Opening goalscorer Khumalo revealed that he held belief that South Africa could pip Mexico to the runners-up spot in Group A.
The defender said: "We really knew what we had to do today and obviously getting an early goal helped us a lot.
"It was important that we carried the momentum on. I really thought we could pull through."