Siphiwe Tshabalala scored in the 55th minute, but Mexico's Rafa Marquez responded with 11 minutes left in regulation as South Africa and Mexico battled to a 1-1 draw in the opening game of the FIFA World Cup Friday in Johannesburg.
The main story line
The majority of critics predicted prior to the tournament that South Africa was destined to become the first host nation in the 80-year history of the World Cup not to make it out of the first round. Many thought they would lose all three of their games, so a loss in their opening match against the Mexicans seemed to be foregone conclusion. But Bafana Bafana showed great resolve and commitment in earning a shocking 1-1 draw and proving the pundits wrong.
Sign up for CIBC Daily Soccer Updates that will provide you with the latest World Cup news, a recap of the tournament standings and a highlight of future matches.
To subscribe to the newsletter, click HERE
The turning point of the game
Mexico was all over South Africa in the first half, and it appeared as though it would only be a matter of time before the hosts would concede. But Tshabalala's goal 10 minutes into the second half revitalized the Bafana Bafana, as they began to play with more confidence and conviction.
What this result means
A loss would have delivered a hammer blow to the World Cup hopes of both teams, and made it an uphill battle to qualify for the second round. With one point each, South Africa and Mexico are still firmly in the mix in Group A and can go a long way to clinching a spot in the round of 16 with a win in their next games.
Man of the match
Siphiwe Tshabalala will garner all the headlines for his goal, but if not for the efforts of South African goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, the host nation could have easily lost this game. Khune came up with big stops on Guillermo Franco in the first half and on Giovani Dos Santos in the second to keep Bafana Bafana in the match.
Goal of the match
South Africa launched a quick counterattack and Tshabalala snuck in behind the Mexican defence, using his speed to catch up a through ball before bursting into the penalty area. From there, the South African calmly strode forward before blasting a left-footed shot into the roof of the net past helpless Mexican goalkeeper Oscar Perez.
Save of the match
Mexico should have opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when Franco controlled the ball deep inside the box and tried a chip shot. But Khune spread himself wide and robbed the Mexican striker by sticking out his hand.
The South African perspective
"It was a great goal, very special for me. It was something of a present because I was celebrating my 50th appearance [for South Africa]." — Siphiwe Tshabalala
The Mexican perspective
"We weren't able to finish. I think the team missed a couple of really good opportunities and things got really complicated when they scored the opening goal. We then became chaotic." — coach Javier Aguirre
South Africa takes on Uruguay in Pretoria on June 16 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2:15 pm ET), while Mexico meets France on June 17 in Polokwane (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2:15 pm ET).