June 11, 2010
Bafana Bafana about to face Mexico in World Cup curtain raiser
With the glitz and glamour of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ opening ceremony out of the way, the beautiful game itself is finally taking centre stage, with South Africa squaring off against Mexico in the first match of the most watched sports tournament in the world.
This video shows fans eager for the game to begin!
Here’s a look at the two teams about to run out onto the field at Soccer City in Soweto:
Hosts South Africa under pressure to perform
South Africa only re-entered international football in 1992 and the team are still struggling to find their World Cup feet. But they’ve been supercharged by a phenomenal show of support by local fans over the last few weeks, culminating in a 250 000-strong march in Sandton on Wednesday.
The team have also had a successful warm-up campaign and remain undefeated since Carlos Alberto Parreira’s return as national coach.
In 1996, only four years after re-entering international football, Bafana Bafana shot to fame when they won the Africa Cup of Nations.
Today, 16 years later, the team have returned to Soccer City, the venue of their Africa Cup of Nations victory, to try and claim football’s greatest prize, the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy.
South Africa had a very successful Confederations Cup campaign and put in a solid performance against Brazil in the semi-final. The boys suffered a narrow defeat against Spain in the third-place playoff.
Mexico a force to be reckoned with
The Mexicans are formidable opponents, just starting to recover from a rocky period in international soccer. The Central American team, now under the leadership of Javier Aguirre, have had three coaches and over 60 players in recent years – leading to a shaky international standing.
Mexico has solid experience at the World Cup and in the last four tournaments that they competed they were knocked out at the Round of 16. This is their fifth consecutive World Cup final.
Aguirre is known as El Vasco and took the helm in 2009. Coach Aguirre previously coached Mexico at the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup™. His strength lies in his tactical experience and his ability to motivate his team. He also has a clear vision and strategy for a successful World Cup campaign.
The Mexican team will likely play in the 4-3-3 formation, to take advantage of the speed of their forwards and the tactical strength and discipline the team are known for.
Mexico has qualified for the World Cup 14 times – more than any other team from the region.