Finally the World Cup draws are up and now all participating countries know who will play who, when and where. There was relief is Paris when news floated in that the France national team “Les Blues” are not in the always mighty group of death, brewing hopes of clinching through the group stages, many believe. But South Africa’s Bafana Bafana, despite a less than impressive performance in recent times, could pull a rabbit out of their hat.
As hosts of the first ever Fifa World Cup on the African continent, the Bafana Bafana boys are aware and realise its time to be part of history and are therefore holding on to unparalleled optimism. They will enjoy all the home support and all the vuvuzelas behind them, and given that motivation and purpose they are not a team to be underestimated.
Since coming back to international football they have stunned the soccer world. In 1996 they won the Africa Cup of Nations trophy in Johannesburg when they hosted the tournament. They also put up gallant performances in the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup.
Though their first time World Cup appearance in France 1998 was not impressive, the team has groomed remarkable and young players like the talented Everton Mid-field maestro Steve Pienaar, the experienced Tsepho Masilela, (Premier united South Africa), and Captain Aaron Mokoena who should be watched out for.
“We are all aware that it is a huge honour to play in a World Cup on home soil; not many players have had such a privilege. We are also aware of the task that lies ahead. For us, the World Cup is our priority; it’s our biggest goal. We need to represent our country with pride,” Aaron Mokoena, South Africa captain is quoted talking to Fifa.com
Mexico though didn’t have a smooth time during their World Cup qualification, they are a very determined and unpredictable side with star players like FC Barcelona skipper Rafael Marquez, the young and energetic Giovanni dos Santos (Tottenham Hotspurs), Efrain JUAREZ (Pumas UNAM- Mexico), Veteran playmaker Cuauhtémoc Blanco who are expected to form the backbone of their team. Mexico has appeared in the World 14 times more than any side in Central and South America so intimidation will not be in their basket.
Uruguay has a very rich history in the world of football though they have been missed in action in recent years, and their South Africa 2010 national side has to be watched out for. They have young and talented players based at home and in many clubs in Europe; the likes of Central defender Diego Lugano (Fenerbahce SK-Turkey), muiltipurpose Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan and Ajax Amsterdam Midfield wizard Luis Suarez.
It seems like a lifetime since the French were crowned 1998 World Cup champions. Thierry Henri’s highly criticised Midas touch as they struggled to qualify for SA 2010 dealt a blow to their already waning home support. But fate seems to have smiled on them as French supporters sigh with relief after Les Bleus took fourth position in their group; a position that allows them to avoid the pressure of an opening match with Bafana Bafana. They will kick off their first match with Uruguay on June 11.
So with Bafana Bafana’s home support, Les Bleus’ determination to prove that they deserve to be part of the World Cup, Mexico’s longstanding experience and Uruguay’s comeback, group A has all the trappings of what could be expected of a group of death.