France were simply not good enough

So France is the first major team to bow out of World Cup 2010. The fact that the 1998 champions were not good enough to make it to the second round is a different matter altogether.
Leadership skills haunted France at this World Cup. In 2006, they were the 'oldest' side -- with an average age of 30 -- participating in the tournament and not many gave them a chance. But then there was Zinedine Zidane.
Manu Shankar lists the major World Cup shockers in the first round.

Image: Thierry Henry leaves the field after losing to South Africa
Photographs: Reuters

France lacked a strong leader

The fact that they were within the grasp of repeating their 1998 feat is testimony to the strong leadership skills of Zizou.
However, four years on, France were without an inspirational skipper. That they made it to the finals courtesy a handball goal from Thierry Henry against Ireland was enough indication of the disappointment that would follow in South Africa.
Coach Raymond Domenech struggled to find a leader who could inspire the team. He had the likes of Patrice Evra, William Gallas, Franck Ribery and Thierry Henry to choose from, but went for Evra, which was surprising, as many felt he could have chosen either Henry or Gallas
France had issues both on and off field

When France was stopped by a strong Uruguayan defence, questions were asked over their ability to score goals. And when Mexico outplayed the Les Blues, the writing was on the wall.
The Nicolas Anelka incident, which started a 'French Revolution', meant a disjointed France would take on hosts South Africa in their concluding league match. The 1-2 defeat that followed was the final nail in the French coffin.
Image: Nicolas Anelka