South Africa gave themselves a great chance of making the knock-out stages as Slovenia were dumped out of the World Cup.
Siyabonga Nomvethe's goal was the difference between the two teams in a poor game but gave South Africa their first World Cup finals win.
After a traumatic week in which their star player was dismissed from the camp, Slovenia's World Cup campaign ended in a sorry state as coach Srecko Katanec was banished to the stands for persistently arguing with the fourth official.
South Africa made the perfect start, taking the lead after just four minutes.
Quinton Fortune was fouled on the left touchline and the Manchester United player picked himself up to whip a free-kick into the area.
It was not a nice game, but we didn't come here to play a nice game we came here to win
SA coach Jomo Sono
The Slovenian marking was non-existent as Nomvethe got on the end of the cross, and although he mistimed his header, the ball cannoned into the net off his thigh.
It was potentially a body blow to Slovenia's already fragile morale and they slowly pieced their game together.
South Africa showed their pace on the break, with goalscorer Nomvethe sprinting away down the right before delivering a cross into keeper Simeunovic's hands.
Fortune then linked neatly and at pace with Benni McCarthy, but again the final pass was a gift for the goalkeeper.
For a team facing a World Cup exit Slovenia showed little urgency.
Djoni Novak's weaving run took him into the danger area but his hesitation cost him a shooting chance and he could only lay the ball back to Acimovic who fired over from 23 yards.
Slovenia's lethargy could have cost them dearly when Muamer Vugdalic was caught in possession by McCarthy. He earned a booking for tugging the South African back and Fortune curled the resulting free-kick over the bar.
Siyabonga Nomvethe is congratulated by MacBeth Sibaya
South Africa made the more positive start to the second-half, with Sibaya picking out McCarthy, who produced a sharp turn and a stinging shot which Simeunovic parried for a corner.
Slovenia's campaign took a another downturn when coach Katanec was banished form the bench for persistent arguing with the fourth official.
As Slovenia's disciplined threatened to evaporate in the heat, McCarthy wasted two chances to double South Africa's lead in as many minutes.
First he headed Fortune's near-post cross against the outside of the frame, and then buried a first-time shot into Simuenovic's midfriff from 10 yards.
Slovenia finally stirred themselves into action, when substitute Nastja Ceh's header forced Andre Arendse into his first save on 70 minutes.
South Africa: Andre Arendse, Cyril Nzama, Lucas Radebe, Aaron Mokoena, Bradley Carnell,
Sibusisu Zuma, MacBeth Sibaya, Tebeho Mokoena, Quinton Fortune (Jabu Pule 84),
Siyabonga Nomvethe (Delron Buckley 71), Benni McCarthy (George Koumantarakis 80).
Subs not used: Pierre Issa, Jacob Lekgetho, Calvin Marlin, Thabo Mngomeni, Bennett Mnguni, Thabang Molefe, Hans Vonk, MacDonald Mukansi, Steven Pienaar.
Booked: Radebe, Tebeho Mokoena.
Goal: Nomvethe 4.
Slovenia: Marko Simeunovic, Zelijko Milinovic, Muamer Vugdalic, Aleksander Knavs (Spasoje Bulajic 60),
Djoni Novak, Ales Ceh, Miran Pavlin, Amir Karic, Milenko Acimovic (Nastja Ceh 60),
Mladen Rudonja, Sebastjan Cimirotic (Milan Osterc 41).
Subs not used: Mladen Dabanovic, Sasa Gajser, Marinko Galic, Dejan Nemec, Zoran Pavlovic, Goran Sankovic, Rajko Tavcar, Senad Tiganj.
Booked: Vugdalic, Ales Ceh, Pavlin.
Referee: Angel Sanchez Ruzafa (Argentina).
MATCH STATS |
| S Africa | Slovenia |
Corners (1st half) | 3 | 1 |
Corners (2nd half) | 4 | 4 |
Fouls committed | 17 | 16 |
Caught offside | 4 | 2 |
Shots on target | 6 | 1 |
Shots off target | 8 | 4 |
Hit woodwork (back into play) | 1 | 0 |
Yellow cards | 2 | 3 |
Red cards | 0 | 0 |
STOPPAGE TIME | |
First half - 1 mins | Second half - 3 mins |