Pre-game: South Africa vs. Mexico
Day 1, Match 1
South Africa vs. Mexico, Group A
Date and Location
June 11, Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg
Live on CBC and CBCSports.ca (9:30 am ET). Consult CBC's full broadcast schedule.
What's at stake
The first match of the World Cup is crucial for both South Africa and Mexico since Group A is considered one of the tournament's toughest groups. A loss for either nation would be catastrophic to its hopes of qualification for the round of 16, and a draw might be equally injurious.
Watch the Rogers Pre-game show 30 minutes before kick-off as our panel of soccer experts provide up-to-the-minute news from South Africa on this match.
To watch the show, CLICK HERE
Injuries and suspensions
Mexican defender Rafael Marquez strained a muscle in his right leg during Mexico's 2-1 win over Italy in a friendly on June 3. Mexico is confident that the FC Barcelona star will be recovered in time for the game against South Africa. Striker Guillermo Franco recently returned to training after suffering a muscle sprain in a recent friendly against England.
Player to watch for South Africa
Bernard Parker — Short but quick, Parker takes the place of South African all-time leading goalscorer Benni McCarthy. Although the 24-year-old Parker does not have nearly as many accolades as McCarthy, the FC Twente forward impressed at last year's Confederations Cup and is being lauded as the present and the future of South African soccer.
Player to watch for Mexico
Cuauhtemoc Blanco — Even at 37 years old, Blanco still has the fire to burn opposing defences. He has never been a quick attacker, but his strength and aggression are hard to douse and he could wreak havoc upon South Africa's notoriously disorganized defence.
Steven Pienaar vs. Rafael Marquez — One provides the flair in South Africa's offence, the other provides the steel in Mexico's defence. Although they may not clash directly, Pienaar and Marquez will wage an on-field chess match — the defensive marshal of Mexico will try to keep South Africa at bay, allowing Mexico's aggressive offence to throw some tough punches.
South African perspective
"Our main hurdle is the first game. I believe if we can get a good result there, the nerves will subside and the people will really get behind us." — defender Matthew Booth
"We've got no excuses. We're used to playing at altitude and even though we'll have [most of] the fans against us, it's not the first time we've played away from home. We'll just have to focus on what's happening on the pitch, that'll be the best way to win the match." — forward Carlos Vela
World Cup head-to-head
The 2010 World Cup opener will be the first time these two countries will face off in FIFA's showpiece.
- Games played: 2
- Mexico: 2 wins, 0 loss, 0 draws
- South Africa: 0 win, 2 losses, 0 draws
- Goals: Mexico 8, South Africa 2
- Last match: Mexico beat South Africa 4-2 on June 7, 2000 in Dallas, Texas