SOUTH AFRICA 1 – 1 MEXICO,
11th June 2010, Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg
A superb Siphiwe Tshabalala goal wasn’t enough to give South Africa all three points as Mexico battled back to earn a draw in the opening game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup at the Soccer City Stadium.
Tshabalala’s superb second half strike was cancelled out by a late Rafael Marquez goal and South Africa captain Aaron Mokoena was pleased with side’s ability to create chances especially on the break.
“We were aware of their three strikers, very quick on the counter and we had to be tight today. I was pleased with the second half. It was a good start for us.
He added, “We had a couple of chances, but we showed that we can create the chances so it’s about building from there.”
The hosts entered this opening fixture with the not just the weight of a nations expectation on their shoulders, but also the added pressure that no host has been defeated in the tournaments opening fixture and Carlos Parreira’s side could count themselves lucky that this World Cup statistic remained intact at half-time.
Mexico dominated first half proceedings and could have silenced the Soccer City crowd in the opening minutes. Winger Giovani almost forced the ball home but South African captain Mokoena led by example and deflected the ball wide in the second minute of play.
The impressive Mexican winger came close again with a left-footed effort and Guillermo Franco was denied by Itumeleng Khune, whose goalkeeping heroics kept South Africa in the first half. The men in green also had a goal rightly ruled out through an offside decision to keep the score level.
Ten minutes after the re-start, Tshabalala sent the nation into a state of ecstasy with a stunning left-footed finish, a certain contender for goal of the tournament, which put the hosts into the lead against the run of play and somehow raised the intimidating noise volume inside the Soccer City stadium another up notch.
Mexico, clearly shaken after falling behind, struggled to find a way past the inspired South African goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune who again denied Giovani minutes later with a powerful effort, but couldn’t keep out Marquez’s 78th minute shot which levelled the brought the side level.
But that wasn’t to be the end of the drama as South African Katlego Mphela found himself through on goal and having placed the ball past the helpless Oscar Perez, a nation watched in horror as it cruelly knocked against the post to keep the score level and in reflection a draw was a fair result.
(Picture courtesy of Sky Sports)