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.