Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Good Start to the World Cup

The World Cup has started and the opening match had host South Africa playing against Mexico. South Africa looked like they were on their way to a dream start in their campaign but a late equalizer by Mexico made the final score a 1-1 draw. To be fair this was probably the correct result as both teams had their chances and overall the play was pretty even.

It didn’t look that way at first because Mexico swamped the South African’s goal in the opening half. Giovani Dos Santos caused the South African defense loads of problems in the opening half with his runs with the ball and South African keeper Itumeleng Khune, who had an impressive game, had to be called into service on several occasions.

In the second half, things changes as South African’s Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira showed his experience by changing the tactics of his team. South Africa became a counter-attacking team, looking to break out of defense quickly and catching Mexico on the break. The plan worked to perfection in the 55th min when Siphiwe Tshabalala broke away and delivered a beautiful shot that sent the 84,000 crowd into glorious ecstasy.

From then on it was all South Africa as they tried to get the second goal. They never got it and Mexico made them pay when star defender Rafael Marquez slotted home in the 79th min. The goal was almost a comedy of errors as Mexico had fouled up their set-play on their corner, but they managed to get the cross in and Marquez suddenly found himself free at the backpost when the South African defense went AWOL. I think the South Africans were trying to play an offside trap but it was so disastrously bad any one of 3 different Mexican players could have scored on the play. Mexico attacked the South African’s goal from then on but it was South Africa who came closest to getting the third goal of the game when striker Katlego Mphela, again on a counterattack, hit the post in the dying minutes.

It was a pretty good game and a nice start to the World Cup. Neither South Africa nor Mexico will win the World Cup but if the rest of the matches are anything like this match, we fans are in for a treat.

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