Archbishop Desmond Tutu became the latest critic of England's poor World Cup performance today, describing their showing as "perfectly abysmal".
He compared the performance of the struggling South African side to the big European teams and concluded: "We shouldn't be feeling too bad."
Speaking in Cape Town, the Nobel Peace Laureate said: "I had David Beckham here the other day and I told him of our fears.
"And David Beckham said: 'You know what, a football match is 90 minutes long. Anything can happen. South Africa has already won as it is hosting this World Cup.'
"And he's right, you know. Remember what has happened to England, Spain, France and Italy. All former winners, all have had perfectly abysmal games. We shouldn't be feeling too bad."
Bafana Bafana, as the South Africa team are known, are in need of a big win against France tomorrow to stand any chance of going through to the knockout stages.
And after draws against the USA and Algeria, England are also in need of goals when they play Slovenia on Wednesday.
The Archbishop, 78, met with Beckham at his offices in Milnerton, Cape Town, last week, praising the injured England talisman for his goodwill.
And today he took the time to praise England fans for their "spirit" and good behaviour.
He said: "The spirit on the streets is quite unique. In Cape Town, people who attended the England-Algeria game on Friday tell me the city resembled a carnival - as tens of thousands took to the streets in perfect security and harmony.
"I believe that this spirit has prevailed at all venues."
He said Bafana Bafana did not play well against Uruguay, a game they lost 3-0.
But he added: "Let's place this in context: We could be joined on the sidelines by top-ranked nations, England, France, Italy and Germany.
"Not to mention all the other, higher-ranked, African teams in the tournament, besides Ghana.
"There is no option but for us to play the games of our lives tomorrow against France.
"I'm predicting a three or four-nil victory. Let's get behind Bafana tomorrow. Win or lose, in many respects we have already won the World Cup."
The Archbishop said South Africa should be proud of its success in hosting the tournament, describing it as the "greatest World Cup in history".
He said: "Over the past few weeks South Africa has experienced an extraordinary revival of its national spirit.
"We were not only ready to host the World Cup, as far as infrastructure was concerned, but also in terms of our self-belief and self-esteem as a nation.
"We are hosting the greatest World Cup in history, and we are doing it in style."
He said the World Cup was a special moment in post-apartheid history which showed the country was "on the right track", adding: "While it is true that the gleaming stadia and transport infrastructure will provide cold comfort to the hungry and the homeless, it is also true, as Deuteronomy tells us, that 'Man doth not live by bread alone'."
The Archbishop said the country must now build on the success of the tournament.
He said: "This is our challenge: We are without doubt the flavour of the month. How do we build on what we have created now for generations to come?
"For how long will we keep those flags flying on our cars and in our hearts? How do we make the World Cup not an end, but a new beginning?"
He said the government, the people and Fifa should all be involved in creating a "meaningful World Cup legacy", which could include homes, sports fields and clinics.
"This goes beyond the physical to the spiritual realm. How do we harness the outpouring of national unity, and build a society based on long-term love and mutual respect?
"What programmes or projects can we develop, at our schools, our clubs and places of worship to extend the life of the butterfly so that it may live forever?"Reuse content