Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

FIFA: Draws all round on opening day

Posted in International Football by peterbein on June 12, 2010
Siphiwe Tshabalala

Siphiwe Tshabalala scored the opening goal in FIFA World Cup 2010

So after all the wait the FIFA World Cup finally kicked-off in Soccer City yesterday for the tournament’s opening game between hosts South Africa and their opponents Mexico. After the opening ceremony, and a couple of welcome speeches from FIFA President Sepp Blatter and South African President Jacob Zuma, the action got under way and it was Mexico who looked the most dangerous team in the first twenty minutes. Bafana Bafana were looking shaky at the back straight from the off with goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune called into the action stopping efforts from Giovani Dos Santos, arguably Mexico’s best player on the day, and Guillermo Franco. The key moment of the first half came eight minutes before half-time when Carlos Vela had a goal disallowed for offside and it seemed that the footballing gods were looking down on South Africa for their big day in the spotlight.

This view seemed to lend itself further credibility ten minutes into the second half when Man of the Match Siphiwe Tshabalala was played through by Teko Modise and he unleashed a fantastic left-footed strike into the top right hand corner to cue celebrations and the biggest blast of the Vuvuzela horns all afternoon. Something tells me that the Vuvuzelas will end up being the most annoying thing about the World Cup as the noise generated by thousands of people blowing into them at the same time makes it sound like the largest swarm of bees anywhere. Thankfully, for Mexico, Rafael Márquez was able to silence the horns, albeit very briefly, in the 78th minute when he was played onside by Aaron Mokoena and he fired hard and low to the keeper’s left to restore parity for the Mexicans. The game was due a grandstand finish and it almost got it in the 89th minute but, after a classic bit of route one football, Katlego Mphela’s shot hit the post and the 1-1 result was perhaps greeted with relief from both sides in the end.

The second game of the day saw two former world champions collide when Uruguay faced-off against France and it would have to go a fair way to beat the entertainment provided by the opening match. Sadly both teams were seemingly incapable of lifting themselves for football’s biggest tournament and played out a pitiful goalless stalemate which was only notable for the sending-off of Uruguay’s Nicolás Lodeiro who had come on as a second half substitute and remained on the pitch for a mere seventeen minutes. After the opening day of the 19th FIFA World Cup all four teams in Group A are on one point each with South Africa and Mexico occupying the top two places due to goals scored. In the second games in Group A South Africa meet Uruguay in Pretoria on Wednesday, June 16th with France playing against Mexico one day later in Polokwane.

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