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The opening match of the 2010 World Cup was an exciting affair in the lead-up, a historic day for an entire continent but there were very little expectations for the Bafana-Bafana. I felt if they could get a point in this opening match it would be a great way to lift the curtain to the competition and early on it looked unlikely that the hosts were going to give any kind of struggle to El Tri.

Ex-Barcelona canterano Giovanni Dos Santos looked like the player of the match. He kept possession well, he unlocked the South African midfield pressure, and the hosts struggled with the pace. Guille Franco started up top and looked lost, a yard too slow for the quick crosses, and if he had they might have gone into the half with a two goal lead. As it stood though, the only goal was a contested tap-in by Arsenal striker Carlos Vela. Correctly called offside, the string of failed attempts left the 0-0 half-time and also left the Bafana-Bafana with a renewed sense that they could get something out of this match with a quick counter-attack, and that is exactly what happened. Kaiser Chief winger Siphiwe Tshabalala got behind the Mexico defense and beat Oscar El Conejo Perez for the 1-0 lead and the stadium rocked. Even Desmond Tutu got out of his chair and started dancing.

Still, it was inevitable that the more athletic Mexicans would come back. New Manchester United forward Javier El Chicharito Hernandez came in for Franco, and Efrain Juarez (who had a cup and a half of coffee playing for Barcelona’s B-squad) sent a hopeful cross into the box and met unmarked Rafa Marquez for the tying goal.

South Africa could have won with a late chance that hit the corner of the bar, but overall it was a fine match for the hosts and a great way to kick off the greatest sporting event in the world.

Guest writer/Mando

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