South Africa held to a draw by Mexico

Reading time 2 min.

The first goal of the first African World Cup was scored by a South African, Siphiwe Tshabalala. But it proved insufficient as the hosts left Mexico’s Rafael Marquez to level up. A surprising yet interesting draw for the Africans.

The 84 000 deafening vuvuzelas of the Johannesburg Soccer City stadium didn’t hamper Mexico’s will to bamboozle host South Africa. In the pregame opening ceremony, president Jacob Zuma spoke for a mourning Nelson Mandela : “The time for Africa has come, the time has arrived.” South Africa will have to wait a bit.

The first half though was mostly Mexican. Giovani (3’, 19’), Franco (15’, 32’) or Marquez (28’) took their chances. Only to see a literally unknown Itumeleng Khune make a name for himself. Only once would El Tri find the way to the back of the net : 38th minute, corner by Garrido. Ball flicked on at the back post and Vela turns it home from close range. But as he wheels away the flag is up and the goal is logically disallowed.

The missed Mexicans’ chances seemed to have lifted the African spirit as the Bafana Bafana end the first half much more strongly than they started it. So many wasted chances for Mexico but South Africa only needed one. 54th minute: Siphiwe Tshabalala picks up the ball on the left, takes a couple of touches and wallops a sizzling left-foot shot across keeper Oscar Perez and into the far top corner. A dance to celebrate with a teammates, another round of the deafening air horns… Welcome to Africa!

The continent is well known for its hospitality but this time Carlos Alberto Parreira’s men should have closed their doors. For the first time of the match, the vuvuzelas felt silent as Marquez leveled back for Mexico from the close range (1-1, 79′). Rafa Marquez is the third Mexican to score at two World Cups after Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Garcia Aspe.

It could (should?) have been 2-1 to SA as Mphela was turned down a penalty and hit the post on one of his stunning counter-attack… It was not to be.

2010 World Cup  South Africa's preparation to host the games on African soil for the first time but also individual African countries' determination to take part in the historic event. Five African countries - Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, South Africa and Ghana - are selected to join twenty seven teams from around the world to battle it out on the football pitch for the gold trophy. One by one, the African teams are eliminated, but Africans will not be bogged down as they rally behind their compatriots on the wings of the vuvuzela, a far cry from the near diplomatic row between Algeria and Egypt during the qualifiers. Ghana are the last team to leave but not before African unity becomes reality...
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