Pre-game: South Africa vs Mexico (11 Jun 2010)

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Match Details

South Africa-Mexico, Group A, Johannesburg, Friday 11 June, 16.00 (local time)

FIFA World Cup 2010 has finally arrived and host country South Africa is opening the games against Group A competitors Mexico held at the flagship Soccer City in Johannesburg.

South Africa is heavily favored to win the tournament as history is on their side. No host nation has every lost an opening game in the FIFA World Cup Finals. Mexico has never won an opening FIFA World Cup Game in four tries – 1930, 1950, 1958, and 1970.

It is expected that South Africa is coming out in droves in the opening game which should give the host nation a huge boost throughout the game.

Game history

These two nations have met twice where Mexico holds a 2-1 win lead against South Africa. Bafana Bafana however, have won their latest encounter during the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Why Mexico would win?

Mexico is a tough opponent where World Cup veterans Gerardo Torrado, Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Rafael Marquez provides stability while Giovani dos Santos, Carlos Vela are the youthful energetic players giving Mexico a fluid and fast paced game. Mexico lost 2-1 against Italy during a warm-up game and given Italy’s firepower, Mexico should be favored to win against South Africa.

Why South Africa would win?

South Africa has solid faith on FIFA World Cup 1994 winning coach in Carlos Parreira who was rehired October 2009 to give hope to South Africa. Parreira is confident on the host nations ability to play solid and competitive throughout FIFA World Cup 2010. Carlos has this to say on South Africa:

“We respect everyone, but we fear nobody. If you had asked me five months ago if we were ready, I would have told you that ‘no, we have a long way to go’. But today, I’m happy with the progress, we are up there, we are ready for the task that awaits us. We still have time to work on one or two things, but overall, I’m happy.

We now have an identity, we now have our own style. We are playing with a lot of confidence and the most important thing is, this team is playing to its strengths.

When I took this job, I said that my biggest priority is to give this team an identity, I sold that vision to the players and today, watching them play like that, I was very happy with the fact that they have bought into the vision. This team is more comfortable with the ball at its feet, we like to keep possession and to pass the ball around. That is what we are doing and that is why I’m very happy.”

Key matchup

Steven Pienaar vs Rafael Marquez

Steven Piennaar, the creative Everton midfielder, is confident and raring to exceed expectations for his host nation’s people. Piennaar expects to see solid defense from Mexican veteran Rafael Marquez who was deployed Mexican coach  Javier Aguirre on the holding midfield to specifically stop the rhythm of Pienaar.

Key takeaway

Everyone expects to see the host nation win the opening game while Mexico is looking to make history by taking South Africa out. Mexico is also motivated to break their losing opening game streak as well. This is going to be an interesting match up and the world is on their feet.

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