Marquez damps down incendiary show of South African pride

South Africa 1 Mexico 1

The pride that the Rainbow Nation has felt ever since being awarded this World Cup six years ago was redoubled in its magnificent new stadium yesterday afternoon as Bafana Bafana – the Boys – grew into men. At the end of the rainbow there was just an opening draw rather than a three-point crock of gold, but they had been only 11 minutes away from finding one.

Initially tentative and nervous, they somehow kept a clever Mexico side out and finally found some form and confidence to carry over into the second period.

Siphiwe Tshabalala's hammer of a strike brought the lead before the old Barcelona hand Rafael Marquez, operating ostensibly as a holding midfielder, stole forward to catch out some naive defending and equalise. Tshabalala would later be named man of the match ahead of Mexico's Giovani dos Santos, whose lively running had threatened to leave Carlos Alberto Parreira's team as the first hosts to lose in an opening game.

The outcome left both coaches satisfied. "All in all the result was fair," said Parreira after the first game of his sixth World Cup. "I couldn't ask more from the boys. Mexico is the most daring teams here with three strikers and attacking full-backs. They're full of quality." His opposite number Javier Aguirre was disappointed only that the quality did not bring them a goal in that dominant first half. "We could have won, we could have lost," was his philosophical take. "First half we really had them in a corner but second half they were good on the counter-attack. Now we're really forced to beat France, but we're confident of winning our other two games."

Not until the last few minutes of the first half did Bafana Bafana do any more than huff and puff as doggedly as their supporters on the ubiquitous vuvuzelas. Mexico were as composed as they had been at Wembley just under three weeks ago with Paul Aguilar, as in that game, a right-back in name only, constantly forcing his way down the right wing to take crossfield passes. There was danger from the second minute, as Itumeleng Khune failed to hold his low cross and Aaron Mokoena scrambled the ball for a corner.

Once Carlos Vela and Dos Santos switched flanks, Guillermo Franco took Vela's pass on his chest and Khune did well to keep out a smart shot with his right hand. Dos Santos then had a shot deflected for a corner that was headed on and nudged in by Vela; but he was rightly adjudged to have strayed offside.

At last the hosts were galvanised, exerting pressure on the diminutive goalkeeper Oscar Perez. He would have been beaten had Katlego Mphela's bald head been a fraction closer to Tshabalala's fine cross.

That flurry was something to take into the dressing-room and 10 minutes after the resumption the new stadium was rocking as it had never done before in its short life. Fulham's Kagisho Dikgacoi played a perfect pass for Tshabalala to take in his stride and thrash the latest Adidas football up and across the groping Perez into the far top corner of the net.

Khune saved splendidly as Dos Santos cut inside on his left foot, and all things seemed possible. In the space of four minutes, however, two glorious chances were wasted by the midfielder Teko Modise.

Aguirre sent on the veteran Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Manchester United's much younger acquisition Javier Hernandez, though it was his earlier substitute Andres Guardado who fashioned the equaliser. As he swung a cross from the left South African hearts joined vuvuzelas in mouths to see Mokoena left all alone against three men in black shirts, one of whom, Marquez, calmly took the ball down and dispatched it past Khune.

In an end-to-end last few minutes, Khune began hoisting huge punts downfield and from one of them Mphela jabbed a shot against the post.

A winner at that point might have brought almost too much emotion to bear. As it was, Bafana Bafana richly deserved their ovation in the centre circle.

South Africa (4-4-1-1): Khune; Gaxa, Mokoena, Khumalo, Thwala (Masilela, h-t); Modise, Dikgacoi, Letsholonyane, Tshabalala; Pienaar (Parker, 83); Mphela.

Mexico (4-3-3): Oscar Perez; Aquilar (Guardado, 55), Rodriguez, Osorio, Salcido; Juarez, Marquez, Torrado; Dos Santos, Franco (Hernandez, 73), Vela (Blanco, 69)

Referee R Irmatov (Uzbekhistan)

Man of match Tshabalala

Attendance 84,490

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project