At the beginning of the summer, the plan seemed incredibly ambitious. Mexico’s national teams at various age levels playing in practically every available tournament. The full senior national squad? Playing in the Gold Cup. An under-23 squad? Going to the Copa America. The U-20s? In the World Cup in Colombia. The U-17s? Hosting their World Cup. Other junior players played at the Toulon Tournament in France. Even the women’s national team got in on the action, as they played in their second ever Women’s World Cup.

With so many tournaments going on for the men, this summer represents an opportunity for the Mexican National Team set-up overall. Dozens of players are getting experience in international tournaments. The objective in each tournament is different, and not all of the tournaments have been played yet. But there has been considerable success so far for Mexico, and leads to a great deal of optimism moving into the next World Cup cycle and beyond.

At the Gold Cup, Mexico entered as favorites, pegged slightly ahead of the United States. Mexico has flattered to deceive in the past, so although it seemed their talents like Chicharito and Andres Guardado would take El Tri to easy victories, it was not a certainty. But this squad got the job done, winning their group games easily, then going down to Guatemala in the quarterfinals, going to extra time against Honduras in the semifinals, and going down by two to the United States in the final. In all three knockout games, Mexico kept their composure and battled back to comfortable victories. Chicharito finished the tournament as the top scorer, and player of the tournament, and capped off a remarkable 12 months for club and country. This team was not even derailed by losing five players to a failed drug test early in the tournament, who have since been cleared and evidently will not face any suspensions. While Mexico, along with the United States, may be the class of a weak region, they were still able to focus and get the title.

The Copa America, still underway, has been very different. The under-23 squad featured no players from the Gold Cup except for the mercurial Giovani dos Santos, who was allowed to play in both tournaments presumably because Tottenham Hotspur was hoping he would raise his transfer value. The squad featured another setback when eight players, including several projected starters, were kicked off the team after cavorting with prostitutes. As a result, the squad is very different, and they have had tough sledding so far in Argentina, losing their first two matches to Chile and Peru. The press and fans of Mexico, who are truly football-crazy, have been wringing their hands over the poor showing at the Copa America. Given that Mexico was restricted from fielding a full senior team, they deserve some slack, and the tournament is providing, if nothing else, experience for many players who haven’t played very much at the international level.

The bad taste left in the mouth from the Copa America has been alleviated almost immediately by the U-17 World Cup as Mexico emerged champion, at home no less. Mexico also won the U-17 World Cup in 2005, and several players from that squad are playing in the tournaments this summer, including Gio dos Santos and Efrain Juarez in the Gold Cup. The excitement of this year’s U-17 World Cup came from a combination of three factors: Mexico’s general obsession with the sport, Mexico being the hosts of the tournament, and Mexico fielding a talented team. The fact that they were at home obviously provided a boost to the players, but in defeating the likes of Uruguay and Germany, no slouches themselves, the team demonstrated they could also thrive under the pressure. There were several notable games in the tournament, but the semifinal between Mexico and Germany was one for the ages. Germany scored shortly into extra time to go ahead 2-1, and then Mexico scored on an Olimpico, or a direct corner kick. On that play, Julio Gomez collided with a German player and needed medical attention after being knocked woozy and bleeding. But after getting his head wrapped up, Gomez jumped right into the action, and ended up scoring the winning goal on an overhead kick with time winding down. As a result, the 16-year old became a national hero, and Mexico moved on to win the title.

Mexico still has the U-20 World Cup coming up, and believe it or not some players have been held out of other tournaments in order to play in it. While nobody is necessarily projecting a title for them, a good showing will continue the optimism surrounding the national team for the next decade. Obviously, in the youth ranks, players will rise and fall over time, but if even a few players from each of the youth squads end up in the senior team, Mexico may have the talent to go with their ambitions on the international stage. It is too soon to tell if this was simply a good summer for Mexico or if this is the start of a new era, but it will undoubtedly make for irresistible viewing.

Written by Alicia Ratterree, gibfootballshow’s Mexican  corresspondent. Follow her on twitter

StumbleUponRedditShare

As we look ahead to July’s Copa America, here’s the final part of our preview by the wonderful Ed Malyon, looking at Group C.

What could have been the most open and competitive group has been weakened by the fact that this won’t be a full Mexico side competing in the Copa America. As a CONCACAF member they are required to play their strongest squad possible in the Gold Cup being held in the USA in June. Therefore, the squad is largely made up of under-22s, and further affected by the drug suspensions handed out to several Mexican internationals in early June.

read more »

StumbleUponRedditShare

“Welcome to Tijuana…Tequila, Sexo y Marijuana” ~ Manu Chao

Please give a warm welcome to Alicia Ratterree, new to gibfootballshow and now our Mexican League corresspondent

In May, Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente, better known as the Xolos (named after a breed of hairless dog native to Mexico), won promotion to the Mexican first division. For a team that only came into existence in 2007, it is a rapid ascent, but the Xolos are not a normal club. They play in a peripheral border city in the midst of a brutal drug war, their owner has a checkered past, and they are spending on promotion and new players like there is no tomorrow. Perhaps in this way, the Xolos are reflective of their community.

read more »

StumbleUponRedditShare

The main discussion topics this week are the FIFA controversy that has filled the media this week. Everyone has their say on Sepp and the boys.

read more »

StumbleUponRedditShare

Day Two of the Last 16 and with three of the favourites playing, at least one of them was going out, but noone thought it would happen the way it did. Controversy in both games, Video technology would have completely changed the events of June 27th.

GERMANY

4

 

ENGLAND

1

Miroslav KLOSE (20′)     Matthew UPSON (37′)  
Lukas PODOLSKI (32′)        
Thomas MÜLLER (67′,70′)        
         
1.Manuel NEUER     1.David JAMES  
3.Arne FRIEDRICH – Y     2.Glen JOHNSON – Y OUT – 87
6.Sami KHEDIRA     3.Ashley COLE  
7.Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER     4.Steven GERRARD  
8.Mesut ÖZIL OUT – 83   6.John TERRY  
10.Lucas PODOLSKI     8.Frank LAMPARD  
11.Miroslav KLOSE OUT – 72   10.Wayne ROONEY  
13.Thomas MULLER OUT – 72   14.Gareth BARRY  
16.Philipp LAHM – C     15.Matthew UPSON  
17.Per MERTESACKER     16.James MILNER OUT – 64
20.Jerome BOATENG     19.Jermain DEFOE OUT – 71
         
Subs     Subs  
9.Stefan KIEßLING IN – 83   11.Joe COLE IN – 64
15.Piotr TROCHOWSKI IN -  72   17.Shaun WRIGHT-PHILLIPS IN – 87
23.Mario GOMEZ IN – 72   21.Emile HESKEY IN – 71

MY THOUGHTS

When this match was decided I had said, If England play 4-4-2 against Germany’s 4-2-3-1 then they would find it very hard to keep the ball in midfield and there would be space at the back, and this was one prediction I have got spot on.

3 of Germany’s 4 goals were scored from the fast break, exploiting the space in the wings overloading the English defence and using their pace, at times they ripped Upson & Co. apart.

The 4-1 scoreline in a way will water down the main talking point, at 2-1 Frank Lampard chipped the ball over Neuer’s head it hit the underside of the crossbar and I think the only people not to see it cross the line were the linesman and the referee, it was a foot over the line, and should have been the equaliser which would have changed the whole complexion of the game, the half time whistle seemed to stop England’s momentum and for me they never seemed to have the same drive in the second half after Lampard’s free kick smashed off the crossbar.

It was 2 goals in 3 minutes from Thomas Müller set up by Mesut Özil, both were superb the young turk cause so many problems finding space between the midfield and defence, then opening up gaps for his teammates, along with his goals it was Müller that set up Podolski for the second, the front four of Germany could have had 5 or 6 goals, David James coming to England’s aid on a few ocassions.

Question marks still hang over the heads of Mertesacker, Boateng and Arne Friedrich, in the air Mertesacker could not be beaten however when turned he finds it very hard to recover, players like Messi and Tevez will cause him problems, Boateng did a bad job in closing down James Milner, letting him cross balls in at will, Boateng is not a fullback and it really shows, I’m not sure Badstuber is a better option.

Not many England players to pick out for positive reasons, Lampard was the most effective that he’s been all World Cup, could easily have scored 2 goals, Milner delivered quite a few dangerous crosses, Defoe coming closest to converting them, David James the other England player to just about come out with pass marks, saves from Klose and Özil, should have been out faster for the first goal though.

Cole, Gerrard, Rooney, Barry and Upson had poor games, Upson was pulled out of position so many times by the German movement, Rooney as has been well documented played poor the whole tournament, bad touch, bad shooting even his movement was sub par.

Taking away all the controversy Germany were the better team and deserved to win, inflicting the worst defeat in a World Cup in England’s history.

ARGENTINA

3

 

MEXICO

1

Carlos TEVEZ (26′, 52′)     Javier HERNANDEZ (71′)  
Gonzalo HIGUAIN (33′)        
         
22.Sergio ROMERO     1.Oscar PEREZ  
2.Martin DEMICHELIS     2.Francisco RODRIGUEZ  
4.Nicolas BURDISSO     3.Carlos SALCIDO  
6.Gabriel HEINZE     4.Rafael MARQUEZ – C – Y  
7.Angel DI MARIA OUT – 79   5.Ricardo OSORIO  
9.Gonzalo HIGUAIN     6.Gerardo TORRADO  
10.Lionel MESSI     14.Javier HERNANDEZ  
11.Carlos TEVEZ OUT – 69   16.Efrain JUAREZ  
14.Javier MASCHERANO     17.Giovani DOS SANTOS  
15.Nicolas OTAMENDI     18.Andres GUARDADO OUT – 61
20.Maxi RODRIGUEZ OUT – 87   21.Adolfo BAUTISTA OUT – 46
         
Subs     Subs  
1.Diego POZO     7.Pablo BARRERA IN – 46
21.Mariano ANDUJAR     8.Israel CASTRO  
3.Clemente RODRIGUEZ     9.Guillermo FRANCO IN – 61
5.Marco BOLATTI     10.Cuauhtemoc BLANCO  
8.Juan VERON IN – 69   11.Carlos VELA  
12.Ariel GARCE     12.Paul AGUILAR  
13.Walter SAMUEL     13.Guillermo OCHOA  
16.Sergio AGUERO     15.Hector MORENO  
17.Jonas GUTIERREZ IN – 79   19.Jonny MAGALLON  
18.Martin PALERMO     20.Jorge TORRES  
19.Diego MILITO     22.Alberto MEDINA  
23.Javier PASTORE IN – 87   23.Luis MICHEL  

MY THOUGHTS

The second game of the day and FIFA would have been hoping for a quiet game with no controversy, not today Sepp.

After Mexico starting as the better team, Guardado came close and Salcido smashed the crossbar, I thought we could have been in for an upset. That was until the 26th minute, Messi played in Tevez his initial shot saved by Perez fell back to Messi he chiped it to Tevez and he headed it in, once we saw the replays it was clear Tevez was at least 2 yards offside, it got worse for Mexico as the teams were lining up for kickoff, the big screen showed the replay and all the Mexican players saw it, and quite rightly confronted the referee and linesman, they had also seen it, and looked embarrassed, of course there was nothing anyone could do now as the goal had been given, another massive call for video technology.

Things went from bad to worse for the Mexicans, Ricardo Osorio tried a little heel drag near his own box, mis controlled and Higuain was in on goal he rounded Perez and made no mistake with the finish, Mexico had gone from the better team to 2-0 down.

There was no way back from this, a Tevez wondergoal made it 3 and apart from Hernandez superb goal for Mexico Argentina never looked troubled again.

Otamendi looked loads more stable at right back than Jonas Gutierrez, Otamendi can also play at centre back so he knows how to cover the middle also, a solid performance. Higuain and Messi were very quiet, they never got many chances to trouble the Mexican defence, I only remember one run from Messi near the end of the match, but players can’t be brilliant all the time, and he has showed so far in this tournament that you need to respect his talent.

I can’t say it was a classic Argentina performance however it was a great victory and they roll on to the next round to face the Germans.

Mexico were very impressive and the much better footballing side in the whole match, sometimes decisions go against you that you can’t come back from and that was the case last night, Hernandez looks a good player Sir Alex has unearthed a gem there, along with dos Santos and the substitute Barrea they caused endless problems to Maradona’s men, I would have started Barrea he looked great against the French and Bautista was poor and was right to be taken off, Barrea looks to have bags of pace and the skill to match.

Shame for the Mexicans to go home, they have entertained us in South African and I hope they grow as a team for the future who knows what can happen in 4 years.

QUARTER FINAL – GERMANY v ARGENTINA

What a match this could be, Argentina weak down the flanks were Germany are so strong, you then have the midfield battles, Özil, Khedira and Schweinsteiger versus Messi, Mascherano and Rodriguez however I would not be surprised if Veron came back in, in a similar role to Schweinsteiger

I’m hoping for a thriller maybe a 5 goal thriller at that, it will not be boring.

StumbleUponRedditShare

My challenge to watch every match in full has failed, just found it impossible to watch matches when I know the score, who scored and what minute, the excitement just isn’t there. I managed the South Africa v France game, Nigeria v South Korea, 2nd half of Argentina v Greece and the extended highlights of Mexico v Uruguay, not a bad effort, so some reports from now on will be more sketchy than others.

For me the knockout stage starts here, for the next 4 days 4 teams will end the day eliminated for the World Cup, such a shame that today saw Bafana Bafana exit the tournament, but they leave with their heads held high.

MEXICO 0   URUGUAY

1

      Luis SUAREZ (43′)  
         
1.Oscar PEREZ     1.Fernando MUSLERA  
2.Francisco RODRIGUEZ     2.Diego LUGANO  
3.Carlos SALCIDO     4.Jorge FUCILE - Y  
4.Rafael MARQUEZ     6.Mauricio VICTORINO  
5.Ricardo OSORIO     7.Edinson CAVANI  
6.Gerardo TORRADO     9.Luis SUAREZ OUT – 85
9.Guillermo FRANCO     10.Diego FORLAN  
10.Cuauhtemoc BLANCO OUT – 63   11.Alvaro Pereira OUT – 77
15.Hector MORENO OUT – 57   15.Diego PEREZ  
17.Giovani DOS SANTOS     16.Maximiliano PEREIRA  
18.Andres GUARDADO OUT – 46   17.Egidio AREVALO  
         
Subs     Subs  
7.Pablo BARRERA IN – 46   19.Andres SCOTTI IN – 77
8.Israel CASTRO – Y IN – 57   20.Alvaro FERNANDEZ IN – 85
14.Javier HERNANDEZ - Y IN – 63      

MY THOUGHTS

Looked a decent game from the highlights, Uruguay just shading it in performance and goals scored, quite a few good chances, Suarez, Pereira, Victorino all could have opened the scoring but it took a magnificent ball from Cavani from the right and Luis Suarez met it was a perfect header, his first goal, and the goal that put Uruguay in the driving seat.

Mexico did react Andres Guardado had a ambitious try for 35 yards only to see it come off the underside of the crossbar, dos Santos looked very busy again, however 3rd game in a row where there has been no final ball from him, maybe that’s what he lacks, Francisco Rodriguez had a absolute great chance to equalise, but couldn’t steer the header past Muslera.From the highlights it looked like Fucile has a great game saw examples of 3 really good tackles.

It was good to see both teams going for it, battling for 1st place, and both teams deserve to go through.

FRANCE 1   SOUTH AFRICA 2
Florent MALOUDA (70′)     Bongani KHUMALO (20′)  
      Katlego MPHELA (37′)  
         
1.Hugo LLORIS     1.Moneeb JOSEPHS  
2.Bakari SAGNA     3.Tsepo MASILELA  
5.William GALLAS     4.Aaron MOKOENA  
7.Franck RIBERY     5.Anele NGCONGCA OUT – 55
8.Yoann GOURCUFF – R     6.MacBeth SIBAYA  
9.Djibril CISSE OUT – 55   8.Siphiwe TSHABALALA  
11.Andre Pierre GIGNAC OUT – 46   9.Katlego MPHELA  
17.Sebastien SQUILLACI     10.Steven PIENAAR  
18.Alou DIARRA OUT – 82   17.Bernard PARKER OUT – 68
19.Abou DIABY - Y     20.Bongani KHUMALO  
22.Gael CLICHY     23.Thanduyise KHUBONI OUT – 78
         
Subs     Subs  
10.Sidney GOVOU IN – 82   11.Teko MODISE IN – 78
12.Thierry HENRY IN – 55   2.Siboniso GAXA IN – 55
15.Florent MALOUDA IN – 46   18.Siyabonga NOMVETE IN – 68

MY THOUGHTS

This was the game that everyones eyes were on, a goal for either Uruguay or Mexico and a 5 nil victory for South Africa would see the wonderful fairytale story and see Bafana Bafana progress to the Last 16.

They couldn’t have asked for a better start, probably against the run of play they won a corner, Lloris flopped and Khumalo rose highest and headed the ball into the net, Gourcuff was then sent off for an elbow in Sibaya face, harsh decicsion but adding to SA’s cause, 8 minutes before Half Time they were 2-0 up, Modise found space on the left and crossed the ball for Mphela despite a attempted clearance from Clichy, Mphela managed to bundle the ball over the line.

Unfortunately this was the cloest they got to advance, the second half was a tighter affair and they couldn’t add to the tally, and it was France that scored, Ribery charged down the left and he crossed for Florent Malouda he scored France’s only goal of the World Cup.

There is noone I would like to pick out from this French team, it was another poor performance, and Laurent Blanc has lots of work to do.

South Africans should hold their head high today, a great performance showed passion and desire and maybe just lacked the ability to follow through on a great start, Tshabalala was busy and I really like the look of him and would love to see him in Europe Italy/Spain perhaps, Mphela played well, akin to his performance in the first game against Mexico and I was glad he got his goal. Sibaya and Khuboni started in the middle and showed a good account for themselves, good passing and strength, Pienaar didn’t have a great game, and has not had a great World Cup which is a big shame.

A really exciting group, going down to the last minutes, you have to say the best two teams have gone through, it is always a shame to see the hosts going out, I will miss the pre-match sing-a-long.

NIGERIA

2

 

KOREA REPUBLIC

2

Kalu UCHE (12′)     LEE Jung Soo (38′)  
Yakubu AYEGBENI (69′PEN)     PARK Chu Young (49′)  
         
1.Vincent ENYEAMA – Y     18.JUNG Sung Ryong  
2.Joseph YOBO OUT – 46   4.CHO Yong Hyung  
4.Nwankwo KANU OUT – 57   7.PARK Ji Sung  
5.Rabiu AFOLABI     8.KIM Jung Woo  
6.Danny SHITTU     10.PARK Chu Young  OUT – 93
8.Yakubu AYEGBENI OUT – 70   12.LEE Young Pyo  
12.Kala UCHE     14.LEE Jung Soo  
13.Yussuf AYILA – Y     16.KI Sung Yueng OUT – 86 
17.Chidi ODIAH     17.LEE Chung Yong  
19.Chinedu Ogbuke OBASI – Y     19.YEOM KI Hun  OUT – 63
20.Dickson ETUHU     22.CHA Du Ri  
         
Subs     Subs  
9.Obafemi MARTINS IN – 57   5.KIM Nam Il – Y IN – 64
18.Victor OBINNA IN – 70   13.KIM Jae Sung IN – 87
21.Uwe ECHIEJILE IN – 46   15.KIM Dong Jin IN – 93
         

MY THOUGHTS

Really enjoyed this game, 2 teams battling for a place in the last 16 and it showed, a back and forward game, Nigeria started the better of the two and were in charge, South Korea fell asleep for a second Odiah charged down the right, crossed the ball in, Cha Du-Ri was left sleeping at the back post and Kalu Uche was there to finish it off. I expected Nigeria to charge on with the wind in their sails this wasn’t to be, 7 minutes before half time Korea won a free kick near the byline, Celtic’s Ki played in a lovely ball everyone missed it but Lee Jung-Soo, he stooped to head it, but it bounced off his shin and into the net, Korea back in the qualification place.

Korea came out in the 2nd half looking in charge and their midfield was out playing the Nigerians, and it was Park Cho-Young that grabbed the second, a free kick 25 yards out, Enyeama took a step to his right, behind his ball and Park curled the ball into the bottom corner, great free-kick but you have to point blame at the keeper, that was has area to cover.

We then saw the worst miss of maybe not just the World Cup but of all time, Obasi beat his man down the left crossed the ball, Yakubu was unmarked 4 yards from goal and he managed to put the ball wide that old cliché “easier to miss” doesn’t do it justice, 5 mins later Nigeria won a penalty, substitute Kim Nam-Il got beat  on the right and he blatantly kicked the legs away from Obasi, no doubt a penalty, I was shocked that Yakubu stepped up to take it, but credit to him, he calmly put the ball past Jung and brought the game level, one more goal and Nigeria would be through. It wasn’t to be though, Korea saw the game out and booked a place in the Last 16 for the first time in a tournament outside their own country.

Some good performances Yakubu was lively Uche and Obasi had a lot of success on the wings, Yussuf was a battler in the middle of the park and was surprised he made it to 41 minutes without being booked.

Cho and Lee in defence looked impressive again it was a shame the fullbacks didn’t back them up and that’s where the goals came from.

The midfield trio of Park, Ki and Kim again impressed, they very rarely lost the ball and can all pick a pass, which is then backed up with the pace of Lee Chung-Yong on the right wing and the tireless running of Park Cho-Young he has had a great World Cup so far, always gives the Centre Backs he plays against a game and cause problems.

I wanted South Korea to go through and I’m glad they held on, noone can say they don’t deserve it.

GREECE 0   ARGENTINA 2
      Martin DEMICHELLIS (77′)  
      Martin PALERMO (89′)  
         
12.Alexandros TZORVAS     22.Sergio ROMERO  
5.Vangelis MORAS     2.Martin DEMICHELIS  
6.Alexandros TZIOLIS     3.Clemente RODRIGUEZ  
7.Georgios SAMARAS     4.Nicolas BURDISSO  
8.Avraam PAPADOPOULOS     5.Marco BOLATTI – Y  
10.Georgios KARAGOUNIS – C OUT – 46   8.Juan VERON  
11.Loukas VYNTRA     10.Lionel MESSI  
15.Vasileios TOROSIDIS OUT – 55   15.Nicolas OTAMENDI  
16.Sotirios KYRGIAKOS     16.Sergio AGUERO OUT – 77
17.Theofanis GEKAS     19.Diego MILITO OUT – 80
21.Konstantinos KATSOURANIS – Y OUT – 54   20.Maxi RODRIGUEZ OUT – 63
         
Subs     Subs  
3.Christos PATSATZOGLU IN – 55   7.Angel DI MARIA IN – 63
4.Nikos SPIROPOULOS IN – 46   18.Martin PALERMO IN – 80
18.Sotiris NINIS IN – 64   23.Javier PASTORE IN – 77

MY THOUGHTS

From the Greeks tactics and performance on show you would have thought a draw would have been enough for them to go through, not the case, they had to win, I would guess the tactics were keep it level for 70 minutes and then have a go, not the greatest spectacle but for 77 mins it worked.

Messi was manmarked by Papadopoulos who did a great job in keeping the Wonderkid under wraps and frustrated him. Veron had a good game with Messi tied up he took charge on the ball trying to control the game, still has classs on the ball but couldn’t find a better pass, Clemente Rodriguez played very well on the left, always looking to get forward and attack but without compromising his position most attacks that led to a shot came through Clemente.

Argentina broke the deadlock with 13 minutes to go, the corner came in Demichelis got his head to it, it was blocked but he managed to get the second attempt and this time it was a goal, a much deserved Argentina goal. Then just before the end a bit of a World Cup moment 36 year old Martin Palermo had come on, and with nearly his first touch scored his first World Cup goal, Messi had made a great run, his shot blocked it fell to Palermo and he sidefooted the ball past Tzorvas, you could see the delight on his face and the rest of his teammates too, a nice touch.

So Argentina win the group and South Korea in second, undoubtably the best two teams in the group, that sets up the last 16 matches of ARGENTINA  v MEXICO and URUGUAY SOUTH KOREA should be two good game, Argentina v mexico could be a classic, two attacking teams hopefully going at it, and it also means either Uruguay or South Korea will be in the last eight, what an incentive that is, I would predict victories for Argentina and Uruguay but the way this World Cup is going don’t rule out the upsets.

StumbleUponRedditShare

2 games gone 62 to go, and I think we are all hoping they get a hell of a lot better than yesterday’s performances, the festivities in Johannesburg have been building up ever since the World Cup was awarded to South Africa, a yesterday was a celebration for the South African people, a colourful opening ceremonyand what is going to be a constant wave of noise from the Vuvuzuela’s all there to cheer one their country in the Opening game of the 2010 World Cup, there was something missing though.

After the opening World Cup concert on Friday tradgedy struck the Mandela family and Nelson’s great-Grandaughter was hit by a car and was killed, which meant the great man would not attend the opening game, my thoughts go out to the whole Mandela family, such a shame that this great moment in African history could not be greeted by a Inspirational leader.

The games must go on though, and the Mexican and South African players came out of the tunnel, the South African players singing and dancing showing the great spirit of their country, and after the 10 minute long speaches from Sepp Blatter and Jacob Zuma we were ready to go.

Looking back it was a decent game Mexico started the brighter, but South Africa came back into it which helped the game, then after Mexico equalised it looked like they could steal all the points, but a draw in the end suits both teams and good to start with a point on the board.

SOUTH AFRICA: 16 Khune – 2 Gaxa, 4 Mokoena, 15 Thwala, 20 Khumalo – 12 Letsholonyane, 13 Dikgacoi, 8 Tshabalala, 11 Modise, 10 Pienaar – 9 Mpehla
Subs – 3 Masilela on for Khumalo (45mins), 17 Parker on for Pienaar (83mins)

MEXICO: 1 Perez – 2 Rodriguez, 3 Salcido, 5 Osorio, 12 Aguilar – 4 Marquez, 6 Torrado, 16 Juarez – 11 Vela, 17 dos Santos, 9 Franco
Subs – 18 Guardado on for Aguilar (56mins), 10 Blanco on for Vela (69mins), 14 Hernandez on for Franco (73mins)

Goals: Tshabalala (SA) 55 mins, Marquez (MEX) 78 mins

MY THOUGHTS:

I liked the right hand side of South Africa’s attack, Gaxa and Modise were very lively and cause some problems, Modise looks to have pace and good footwork, was also really impressed with Tshabalala showed great energy and desire, and of course a great finish for his goal, Dikgacoi and Letsholonyane were good in the centre of midfield working really hard to help Pienaar get open.

At times South Africa played some really nice football, linking up well with pace down the wings, they started slow but picked up in the second half and showed what they could do, definitely have a chance to progress.

Mexico played in a Barcelona-esque style, 2 centre backs with Marquez dropping deep when Salcido and Aguilar went forward which the did at the drop of a hat, playing with alot of width, dos Santos started very brightly and looked to do alot of damage, however I think they with Aguilar getting forward so much he was forced to move inside, which took away his space, Vela was very quiet and I can’t remember anything he did, disappointing for the Arsenal man.

Interesting to see how they get on against France on Thursday where they both need a result.

Next was the match between Uruguay and France, a lot expected from this one, the French needing to show they can live up to their players talents and fans expectations, and Uruguay predicted as some peoples dark horses with Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez surely they will score goals.

URUGUAY: 1 Muslera – 2 Lugano, 3 Godin, 6 Victorino – 16 M Pereira, 11 A Pereira, 15 Perez, 17 Rios, 18 Gonzalez – 9 Suarez, 10 Forlan
Subs – 14 Lodeiro on for Gonzalez (63mins), 13 Abreu on for Suarez (73mins), 8 Eguren on for Perez

FRANCE: 1 Lloris – 2 Sagna, 3 Abidal, 5 Gallas, 13 Evra – 14 Toulalan, 19 Diaby, 8 Gourcuff – 7 Ribery, 10 Govou, 21 Anelka
Subs – 12 Henry on for Anelka (71mins), 15 Malouda on for Gourcuff (75mins), 11 Gignac on for Govou (85mins)

Sent off – Nicolas Lodeiro for 2 yellow cards – 80 mins

MY THOUGHTS:

A truely awful game, at times 2 passes couldn’t be strung together, France just had no game plan really, everything they did was individual play, Ribery, Anelka, Gourcuff were trying to create but trying too much which lead to a poor match to watch, Uruguay werecontent to try and hit on the break and long balls towards Forlan and Suarez.

The three centre backs for Uruguay although reported to be slow and suspect, they coped pretty well I thought, rarely did Anelka find space to trouble them, helped by Diego Perez in his defensive duties they stiffiled most French attacks, Adriano Pereira seemed busy on the left and put a couple of good crosses into the box, Forlan was his usual self, 2 good attempts on goal but couldn’t trouble Lloris.

France were very poor by their standards, Anelka and Gourcuff were they’re best players, Govou struggled on the right after his early miss, Abou Diaby impressed at times in his galloping awkard style which seems to bamboozle players, Evra and Sagna didn’t get forward as much as they’d like, Ribery was quiet by his own high standards, France need to play as a team if they are going to do anything at this World Cup, and they need to start very soon, a tough game with Mexico next, surely they couldn’t have the same fate the 2002 squad had?

I’m hoping that was the worst game of the tournament.

StumbleUponRedditShare