GROUP A STANDINGS AFTER WEEK 1

13 Jul

Group A            W            D            L            GD            PTS

Mexico                    0            1            0              0              1

South Africa 0            1             0              0              1

France                     0            1            0              0              1

Uruguay                  0            1            0              0              1

Bafana Bafana VS Mexico

Bafana Bafana kicked the tournament off with typical African verve and swagger. The sad news of Nelson Mandela’s great granddaughters death, meant the great South African icon was unable to attend, but the 84,000 strong crowd, were encouraged to enjoy the match in his absence. With the pomp and pageantry done and dusted, Vuvuzela’s buzzing and the sun relentlessly beating down, South Africa took centre stage. The Boys found themselves pegged back early in the match and relying on a rally of “route one” balls, lets call them hopeful clearances, to the lonely Mphela. To his credit, Mphela looked up to the task and chased every lost cause in the hope of relieving pressure from the embattled rear guard. The chasm in quality showed as the young Mexican side passed the ball neatly around, fashioning chances between the interchangeable front three of Franco, Dos Santos and Vela. South Africa began to settle and passed to feet, with talisman Tshabalala taking up more of a free roll and wondering around the pitch leaving space for his team-mates to run into and creating openings for Mphela. South Africa ended the half on top, Mphela almost converting a beautiful Tshabalala cross.

Mphela had his moment within 9 minutes of the restart when he perfectly weighted a ball into Modise’s path who, in turn, played a defence splitting ball for Tshabalala to latch onto. Tshabalala ghosted passed the defender, took the ball into the area and rifled it across the face, passed the out-stretched keeper and into the top right corner for the opening goal of the World Cup 2010. Tshabalala, Kaiser Chief’s 25-year-old winger, could well have written himself into folklore with the emphatic strike – a contender for goal of the tournament… the celebration wasn’t bad either. 1 – 0

Bafana Bafana had a few chances to make it 2 – 0 but soon took to protecting the lead. Mexico flooded forward but the front 3 failed to score thanks to Khune who kept them all out on separate occasions with full stretch saves. On 79 minutes, a defensive disaster that got my blood boiling. Poor defending from a short corner, the defence buckled under pressure by a) not holding the line and b) not marking four men at the back post. Marquez, in acres of space, fired low and hard into the South African net. 1 – 1

South Africa had one last chance to put it right when Mphela raced onto another long ball only to see his effort crash back off the post.

South Africa will have taken heart from the flat stalemate between France and Uruguay later that day. Both France and Uruguay look a much tougher proposition, but if they both play like that against Bafana Bafana the odds are stacked heavily in the host’s favour to progress into the knockout rounds.

Final Score: South Africa 1 – 1 Mexico

Man of the Match: Tshabalala and Khune share it here, opposite ends of the pitch but they matched each other in desire.

Goal of the Match: No question, Tshabalala’s lashing.

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