South Africa Vs Mexico Preview

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South Africa to take on Mexico
Johannesburg: The opening game of the Fifa World Cup is set to be a cracker of a match. With the home side with all the enthusiastic home support, they would be hoping to get off to a good start and keep the home crowd alive.

The two countries from Group A will kick-off the 19th edition of the World Cup event. The Africans are the third side to play in a World Cup opener. The group is considered to be one of the toughest group with the other two teams being France and Uruguay who will be facing off against each other in the second match.

They have had a disappointing form over the last few years and the poor performance of the Bafana Bafana was openly criticized by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

But in their recent games they did manage come back strongly, they had a run of 12 unbeaten matches since November. With expectation of around 85000 crowd, the team will be on a lookout to upset the Mexicans. The home crowd are with strong optimism that the team will do well in the tournament.

South African coach Carlos Aleberto Parreira named an unchanged team for today's opener. It has been reported that Tsepo Masilela is set to return after injury and take the left back position for the home team.

Parreira has warned his players that the crucial opening encounter with Mexico will be tough as he considers the Mexico side as "the most daring team" at World Cup.

"We want to have fun, we want to enjoy the game," Parreira said.

"I know it's not easy to enjoy the game when you play a team as good as Mexico. They are the most daring team in this World Cup, the way they approach the game."

For the Mexican side Veteran playmaker Cuauhtemoc Blanco has been an inspiration for the youngsters in the team such as Guillermo Ochoa, Efrain Juarez, Andres Guardado and Giovani dos Santos and helped them find their best form. And their skipper Rafael Marquez's return from injury is set to boost their chances.

Mexico have already experience in four opening games in World Cup history. Their last experience was a goalless draw with the Soviet Union at home in the year 1970.

However, they had lost their other three, conceding 11 goals.

Javier Aguirre is Mexico's most successful coach of recent times.


Players to watch out for

South Africa: Steven Pienaar, Bernard Parker, Tsepho Masilela

Mexico: Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Guillermo Ochoa, Giovani dos Santos

All-time head-to-head

Games played: 2
--Mexico: 2 wins, 1 loss, 0 draws
--South Africa: 1 win, 2 losses, 0 draws

Goals: Mexico 9, South Africa 4
Last match: Mexico beat South Africa 4-2 on June 7, 2000 in Dallas, Texas

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