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.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
Sport
SPORT
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Biggins as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan
theatreHow do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
News
i100
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

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick