Friday, June 11, 2010

South Africa's Tshabalala Stunner Not Enough For Win

Siphiwe Tshabalala unstoppable left foot shot into the top corner of Mexico's goal was not enough to give the Bafana Bafana three points. Rafa Marquez cool finish ensured that Mexico's late push for an equalizer would be rewarded. South Africa started nervously against Mexico at the Soccer City Stadium but eventually got a grip in midfield and that allowed the hosts to gain control of the match.

Some very nice interchange of passes in midfield and a through ball allowed Siphiwe Tshabalala to break clear of the Mexican defence. The desired effect of the Jabulani ball took over and Mexico's Oscar Perez had no chance in saving that.

Carlos Alberto Parreira, South Africa coach accepted the draw in good heart,
The opening game is always a lot of pressure and today was no different. Considering it was the opening match, this is a good result for us. The pressure got to the boys to begin with but then they started to play the ball around and took control. This is going to be a tight group and anyone who gets four points will go through. That means we’re still well in the race. In the second half we made the game more balanced and had chances to even have won it. I believe that the ice has been broken. The result was not the one we wanted but whatever happens against Uruguay, this group will be decided in the last game against France
And Parreira was right. Fulham's Dikgacoi was fantastic as a holding midfielder, disrupting the Mexican play as well as passing the ball intelligently. Steven Pienaar basically ran himself to the ground until he was substituted. Mphela could have sealed victory but his placed shot bounced unluckily off the foot of the Mexican post. Teko Modise was also guilty of a gilt-edged chance when he "shinned" a shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat. All in all, South Africa put in a great opening display, only to be denied victory.

Siphiwe Tshabalala was delighted by his performance,
Apart from the first 20 minutes I think we did well. This is the first World Cup for many of us and we should be pleased with ourselves. Maybe we missed a few chances but the good thing is that we created them in the first place. The rest is just a question of time. More goals will come.
Javier Aguirre, Mexico coach assessed his team's performance in this manner,
The goalkeeper on the South African side was absolutely great. South Africa were playing at home with all their fans. I think in the first half we had them in the corner but in the second half they were very very fast and it was quite fair. Their goal changed the match a lot. I wouldn't say we got nervous but a little bit anxious. We tried to change our play and we managed to draw but it wasn't enough.
Mexico once again played some good, slick football. However, Oscar Perez does not instill confidence at all in goal. The defence is definitely an achilles heel as well. A better team would have put away the chances that South Africa had in this match.

Giovanni dos Santos looked in very good form and should be a strong factor in El Tri's hope of progress. He drifted out of the game in the second half and Mexico immediately lost the attacking impetus they had in the first half. Javier Hernandez, Manchester United's new wonderboy, came on as a substitute for Guille Franco but could not do much to change South Africa's dominance in the second half.

Still a lot to play for in Group A, that's for sure!

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