The Cup Running Over

June 10, 2010 5:44 AM

Opening Match Preview: South Africa v. Mexico

Either of these teams could be a dark horse to make a run in the tournament, if only it can get out of the group. This first match is key. Mexico's very fluid formation will likely allow it to dominate possession against a technically inferior South Africa, and, having experience at playing at altitude, will maintain a physical presence the entire game. Mexico has had trouble finishing in the pre-tournament run up, and so will finally have to translate superior possession into results in the final third - Carlos Vela in particular will have to step up his finishing if they are to take 3 points from this game.

We don't really know what to expect from South Africa - - the team has looked shaky at best in the run up, and since we never saw this side in qualification, this match will be revealing. South Africa will have to maintain its defensive shape throughout the match to emerge with points, and the keeper, likely to be promising young Itumeleng Khune, will have to have a good game.

218419-mexico-national-team.jpgMexico hopes to be celebrating after 90 minutes (Courtesy --

Mexico should be wary of this unknown team, and it's possible the pressure of playing the opening match may see its young team crumble under the weight. This is a wide-open first match that South Africa needs to avoid losing more than Mexico.

Steven and Harrison Stark are the co-authors of the recently published World Cup 2010: The Indispensable Guide to Soccer and Geopolitics. They are analyzing the World Cup for Real Clear Sports.

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