Friday, June 11, 2010

Mexico Spoils the Party; Draws with South Africa

As the opening game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup progressed the fairy tale that was the South African football team continued to grow. After dominating the first half and getting a goal disallowed it looked as though it would be a matter of time before the Mexicans would assert their dominance over the 83rd-ranked team in the world. However, in the 55th minute Bafana Bafana was touched by little magic as Siphiwe Tshabalala took a long feed and hit a left-footed strike into the top corner of the goal to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. Most of the 95,000 people in attendance at Soccer City in Johannesburg erupted in a frenzy. The South African defense buckled down and kept Mexico at bay. Star Giovani Dos Santos cracked a shot that looked good only to have to turned away by Itumeleng Kuhne.

In the 79th minute South Africa suffered a huge mental lapse as they horribly misplayed a play off a corner kick and left three Mexicans onside with only one defender back. Rafael Marquez made quick work of the miscue and tied the game at one.

The teams traded chances throughout the last twenty minutes before South Africa's Katlego Mphela got some space and put a shot past Mexican goalkeeper Oscar Perez in the 89th minute only to be denied by the left post. That would be the last credible chance either team would get as the match finished as a 1-1 draw.

This was a tremendous match that built slowly and almost reached the status of becoming a national day of celebration in South Africa before the evil left post reared its ugly head. Going forward South Africa must be able to take this result and move forward. They were able to take one point from a team that at least on paper should have dominated them. A win in their next match with Uruguay would put them in a good position to advance. However, if it comes down to it goal differential could be a problem for Bafana Bafana.

Mexico needs to take this draw and put it behind them. Most pundits picked them to win the group and advance, and taking only one point from South Africa hurts them as much as it help South Africa. A win in their next match against France would silence the critics and put this result behind them, but a loss would turn this team from "the greatest Mexican team ever" to one of the biggest busts in World Cup history.

No comments:

Post a Comment