South Africa V Mexico Preview: Friday, 11th June (Group A)

8th June 2010 | World Cup Betting category: World Cup Qualification Previews & Predictions
World Cup Qualification Previews & Predictions

 

South Africa V Mexico

Kick-off: Friday, 11th June – 15:00 GMT
Stadium: Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
Group A

 

South Africa

Once all the commotion of the opening ceremony is done and dusted, the hosts, in a traditional and timely manner, will officially kick-off proceedings while at the same time trying to uphold an age-old World Cup tradition by qualifying for the knock-out stage of the competition. In order to achieve what is widely considered a minimum target from the South African’s, Bafana Bafana will need to register some positive results against Mexico, who they play on the opening day of the tournament in Johannesburg, Uruguay and 1998 world champs France. Failure to climb out of the group would result in South Africa etching their name in World Cup folklore, becoming the first host nation not to compete in the knock-out stage of the tournament. Obviously a feat the entire country are desperate to avoid.

It wasn’t so long ago that South Africa were enjoying a fourth-place finish at the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa, the prep tournament for the World Cup. Despite positivity surrounding their respectable finish, South Africa went in the opposite direction in terms of results, and their lengthy drought without a win ultimately cost Joel Santana’s his job and seen his Brazilian counterpart Carlos Alberto Parreria regain the South Africa reigns for the second time. While his appointment was controversial, none more so because of his lucrative wage packet, the former World Cup winner with Brazil in 1994 has been an utter revelation and has quickly transformed the country’s national team into one with far more organisation, discipline and, more importantly, self-belief.

Parreria has to be congratulated for his commendable work with a team which was on it’s knees and waiting to be put out of its misery under Joel Santana. So much so that Bafana Bafana will kick-off against North Americans Mexico in high spirit after a run of 12 internationals without losing, a streak which stretches back eight months and one South Africa will probably need to extend by another three games if they’re to stand any chance of qualifying from a tricky Group A. They aren’t without a realistic chance though, with Perreria’s revamp of the national team restoring some pride and faith previously lost from their own fans. They are far more organised under Parreira’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, with the ‘killer’ – Katelgo Mphela – admirably leading the line up front all by himself. The latter scored a late winner against Denmark as South Africa closed out their World Cup preparations with a tough of style, thus boosting the hopes and expectations of a nation further.

On Friday evening, you’re likely to see a scrappy game of football from South Africa, with the more attractive play coming from the silky Mexicans. Parreria’s sets up his team to be resolute, with the sole intention to avoid conceding anything cheap, or anything at all for that matter, as the Brazilian looks to instil some positional discipline and organisation into the South Africa ranks. From what we’ve seen from them in some of their warm up games, chances will be few and far between but the hosts have been clinical, with forward Mphela, who will lead the line on his lonesome against Mexico in a five-man midfield, particularly deadly and the Mamelodi Sundown’s striker could, as he’s so proven in recent internationals, could be the match winner for Bafana Bafana in their World Cup opener.

 

Mexico

As their Group A opponents, South Africa, set out to protect a timely tradition in the finals by progressing from the group, Mexico themselves have a streak of their own to protect, having made the knock-out stage of the competition in their previous five attempts. In the previous four finals, Mexico, a team which has never really been blessed with a stand-out performer, has head to deal with the heartbreak of exiting the tournament at the last-sixteen stage. In 2010, in the first ever finals to be held on African soil, Mexico won’t just have to overcome two former World Cup winners in Uruguay and France but also the host nation.

There are no doubts as to whether or not Mexico have the quality within their 23-man squad to outplay South Africa for large parts in Johannesburg on Friday, as they did to a certain extent against England at Wembley a little over two weeks ago. The problem, though, has been scoring goals, converting their dominance with possession into goals that could see them win games instead leaving their encounters with plaudits for their attractive play but nothing to show in regards to the result. They did, however, prove at least that they do have the quality, some composure up front to beat the more talented and equipped nations, as in their last warm up game before the finals against Italy, Mexico scored twice in a stunning 2-1 win.

The Mexico coach, Javier Aguirre, has done a similar job at the held to his opposite number, rescuing a team which appeared doomed and destined to underachieve. Were it not for Aguirre’s intervention during qualifying, Mexico may not have made the finals. Aguirre has took the Mexico national team by the scruff of the neck and shook the players into life and finally got some with overinflated ego’s to value wearing the green colours of their country. They too will arrive in Johannesburg for this World Cup opener with noteworthy form, winning five of their last seven internationals and also boasting a 2-1 win over the reigning champions, Italy.

Mexico couldn’t be any different to South Africa if they tried, with El Tri opting instead for slick passing moves and bright on and off-the-ball movements. Aguirre has Mexico playing at a high-tempo, with their passing play in the forward third crisp and fast, while the players remaining energetic and are always eager to impress with the ball. Some players which can make things happen are Giovanni Dos Santos, who with his quick-feet and enthusiastic attitude, will be a constant threat as well will Arsenal’s Carlos Vela. The marauding runs from their full-backs will give them more options when attacking, with PSV left-back Carlos Salceido in particular a prominent feature down the left flank. It is, however, the forwards where any criticism will lye should Mexico not get anything from this game, as Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez looks to shine on the biggest stage he’s ever come across, while the experienced Blanco will look to inspire his country to a priceless win which could set them on their way nicely.

 

Match Odds:

South Africa – 2.90 WilliamHill
Draw – 3.30 Ladbrokes
Mexico – 2.60 Boylesports

 

Our Prediction: Mexico to WIN – 2.60 Boylesports

Were this on neutral ground, there’s little doubt that Mexico would be the clear favourites due to the fact they have a host of talented individuals, some of which apply their trade with some giants clubs in Europe. South Africa however, the majority of their players are based in their home land and won’t exactly be accustomed to facing world-class players on a day-to-day basis. Granted the Mexico team isn’t exactly brimming with superstars, but there are more match winners in El Tri’s corner than in Bafana Bafana, and while we would love the host nation to get off to the best possible start, Mexico tick more boxes than South Africa do and so get our vote of confidence.

Recommended Bet: Mexico to WIN 1-0 @  7.00 VCbet



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