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Posted by Paul Johnson on 06/10/2010

The eyes of the world will be focused on Soccer City, Johannesburg when Bafana Bafana take on Mexico to kick off the 19th World Cup on Friday. I think that the neutral fan will want South Africa to win (Sorry Mexico fans) and I dont expect them, or the millions of home supporters to be disappointed.

South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira names an unchanged line up for the third game in a row against Mexico. The hosts are in a fine run of form at the moment, having not lost for 12 matches and defeating some good teams like Denmark along the way. However, they’ll be looking to prove that they can win when it really matters - in a competitive game. A solid few months of progress could be shattered in 90 minutes on Friday if Bafana Bafana lose.

With so much riding on the result, I expect the early stages of the game to be very cautious. Both teams will probably see a draw as not too bad a result but I think that the longer the game stays at 0-0 the more it works in our favour. Playing the 4-5-1 formation that has suited the hosts so well in previous games, South Africa will be looking to soak up Mexico pressure and hit them on the break, Mexico will become stretched and the hosts could take advantage.

It will be tricky though. Do Mexico ever have bad World Cups? They always seem to at least get out of the group stages. They also seem to be enriched by some fabulously technically gifted players like Giovani Dos Santos and the evergreen Blanco. Mexico are also coming into this game off the back of a great win against World Champions Italy and should have got more from a poor England team that they played last week.

I'm bias but I'm going for a 1-0 win for South Africa in this game. Mexico look to be the more skilful team but I think our desire and spirit will see South Africa through. I'm positive too that a win against Mexico will help them on their way to the last 16.

I'm also going to stick my neck out here and say that I think South Africa could well be the most successful African team at this tournament. The feeling seems to be that African teams are going to do quite well at this year’s World Cup, but looking at the Groups for round one, I think it's quite conceivable that all African could teams could go out at the first hurdle.

That’s not to say I don’t have my doubts and worries about South Africa. Even in a not particularly strong group, I still think that the hosts are going to need a tremendous amount of heart to progress to the next round. I have a lot of concerns about South Africa's firepower (or lack of). It's quite hard to see where the goals are coming from, even though Mphela seems to be scoring for fun in friendly games at the moment. A nagging doubt keeps on creeping into my mind that Benni McCarthy should have been part of the squad. Ok, he wasn't in the most perfect physical condition but he's never let our country down and perhaps the hosts could have benefitted from his experience.


One month of glorious football is about to kick off on Friday. There's sure to be some rollercoaster moments but I really think this is a wonderful time to be a South African football fan.

TEAM TO PLAY MEXICO:
Itumeleng Khune; Siboniso Gaxa, Lucas Thwala, Bongani Khumalo, Aaron Mokoena; Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Steven Pienaar, Teko Modise, Siphiwe Tshabalala; Katlego Mphela

Thanks for reading and enjoy the game! You can also follow me on Twitter for news, updates and random musings direct from the tournament: http://twitter.com/PaulJohno500

Comments

Posted by Aus ref on 06/11/2010

South Africa v Mexico should have been 1-0.
Watch the replays. Mexico player 14 was in front of the ball when the goal shot was made, just 3m directly in front of the middle of the goal with only the goalkeeper in front of him, and clearly in a distracting position. That's offside. OK, this one was marginal, unlike some of the terrors in the last World Cup, but the difference can be enormous.

Posted by gitf on 06/16/2010

it's likely that south Africa will make a second draw on todays' match

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