Sing it loud – the hosts are in with a shout

South Africa's goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune had a complaint about Friday's opening game against Mexico at Johannesburg's Soccer City: the vuvuzelas sported by home supporters were not loud enough. It should be said Khune was in a minority – possibly of one – and that it could even have been the continuing din after Siphiwe Tshabalala's superb opening goal that was responsible for Bafana Bafana's captain Aaron Mokoena not hearing a call to move out of defence following a corner, leading to Rafael Marquez's equaliser.

It all added up, however, to a fair result in an entertaining game to begin what is clearly going to be one of the very tightest of the eight groups. The feeling afterwards among Portsmouth's Mokoena and his team-mates mingled relief with satisfaction; the former at having not let anybody down on what was being called the biggest day in South African football history and the latter at a job well done and a point deservedly gained.

All the host nation's brave words beforehand were in reality tinged with apprehension but as a result of the recovery from early nerves, there is now some genuine confidence to carry into Wednesday's second game against Uruguay at the less intimidating Loftus stadium in Pretoria. As Fulham's Kagisho Dikgacoi put it, having set up Tshabalala's goal with a sweet pass: "We learnt a lot by being out there on such an important day. Hopefully we can take that into the next game." The scoring hero added: "We can build on this performance. We now know we can compete with some of the best players in the world. They put us under a lot of pressure but we managed to contain them."

Apart from one defensive lapse, there were encouraging signs in the way Reneilwe Letsholonyane brought them back into a game that Mexico had dominated early on. The spirit exemplified by seeing the squad emerge from their bus at the stadium all singing their team anthem clearly helps, as does the fact that all the players from the domestic league have been together now for four months. Indeed, the only two starters from European clubs, Mokoena and Everton's Steven Pienaar, were among the side's weaker performers on the day.

Pienaar, in the key role just behind the main striker, has an important part to play but the experienced coach Carlos Alberto Parreira hauled him off as ruthlessly as he had done at half-time to the hapless left-back Lucas Thwala, who was being exposed by Mexico's attacking right-back Paul Aguilar.

Mexico coach Javier Aguirre was equally quick to remove strikers Guillermo Franco and Carlos Vela when they began to wilt in the second half. All in all, Mexico look like being one of the more entertaining sides.

Aguirre has targeted Thursday's game against France as one his team must win, which is perfectly possible. Parreira's experience tells him that four points will be sufficient to progress from the group. If South Africa, back at their Sandton base, watched the second match on Friday night, they will also feel they could reach that target by stifling Diego Forlan and beating Uruguay.

The Soccer City match reminded us again of just what advantages accrue to a host nation and why none has ever lost an opening game. Upping the noise levels from the vuvuzelas will doubtless help, even if it does no favours to the rest of us.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
life
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

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits