First Half

Mexico had the experience, and in the first 15 minutes that was made obvious. Opening the World Cup at home weighted heavily in the Bafana Bafana, and they were completly lost against Mexico’s passing and the ability of Giovanni dos Santos. The Mexican squad made Khune the best South African in the pitch. The nervousness of the South African just didn’t ruin the game for them because Mexico was not an objective team, and Franco was very keen on missing goals. When they finally put one in the net, it was (correctly) anuled for being offsides.

South Africa slowly regained its cool, and the game got a little more balanced, but Mexico was still superior, with almost 70% ball possession. Still, the game was technically poor and not very exciting in the first half.

Second Half

South Africa came back changed. They were more intelligent when they had the ball, more consistent when they were on defense. They imposed a more African style to the game, with long passes and fast counter-attacks. And when Tshabalala received a long ball in from Mphela, he fulminated Jabulani into the net of Perez.

That’s when the World Cup started.

South Africa finally woke up, and Giovanni dos Santos also brought the North Americans back into the game. Mphela had another great chance, with a ball kicked by goalie Khune and battle it out on the Mexican box to send Jabulani hard at the post. The ref, however, should have called a penalty because the Mexican defense just trounced poor Mphela.

Parreira, this enemy of football, loves defense but the defense is the weak point of any African team. What any smart coach should have done is go for the kill, but a Parreira team will never go for the kill. And, although Mexico was an absolutely uninspiring squad, they had more quality than the Africans (including everybody grandpas Cuauhtémoc Blanco)  and were able to score an equalizer due to a defensive failure of the South Africans.

One-one, and the World Cup is underway.