It’s hard to imagine anyone more excited than the South African team as the 19th World Cup kicked off on their home turf on June 11 at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. The joy could be seen in the eyes of each South African team player that walked out of the tunnel, singing in harmony during the introduction of the opening match.
Unfortunately for their fans, much of the excitement fizzled as Mexico ruined South Africa’s chance of clinching the first win of the 2010 World Cup by forcing a 1-1 draw in the Group A matchup.
Mexico came out very strong early in the match, dominating possession of the ball during the first 30 minutes of play. But the South Africa eventually warmed up and took the lead in the 55th minute with a goal by Siphiwe Tshabalala that set the crowd of 84,000 fans off in a roar of cheers.
“It was a great goal, very special for me,” Tshabalala said during the post game press conference. “It was something of a present because I was celebrating my 50th appearance.”
But South Africa didn’t hold the lead long as Mexico’s Rafael Marquez slid past their defense to score a goal in the 79th minute.
“We could easily have won the game,” South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira told reporters. “All in all, at the end, a draw is a fair result. We are still in the competition, this group is very tough.”
Each team in Group A are tied with a point each, as France and Uruguay also played to a 0-0 draw on June 11.