Morning. Colm Larkin here, Bleacher Report Soccer Writer Extraordinaire. Over the next couple of hours I’ll be your guide through the opening match of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa between host South Africa and Mexico. So if you can’t get to a TV why not follow all the drama and excitement here, as the hosts taken on Mexico? You can also join the conversation by posting your comments below.
8:55 a.m. PT FULL TIME South Africa 1 Mexico 1
The game really improved in the second half, especially after South Africa took the lead with that brilliant goal.
The hosts will be gutted to have conceded such a soft goal but should have won it at the death when Mphela hit the post.
Honors even at the end and I'm sure the hosts will celebrate this point long into the night.
Thanks for your company.
8:54 a.m. PT We're in added time. There will be three minutes. I don't want this to end.
8:52 a.m. PT Oohhh! How close was that! Mphela has just hit the post for South Africa.
Mexico's defense was all over the place as Mphela was put through. He flicked the ball past Perez but it came off the woodwork. Unlucky.
8:50 a.m. PT Any bounce of the ball looks difficult for the players to judge at this altitude. Juarez just let one bounce in front of him and looked aghast when he flew up over his head.
8:46 a.m. PT SUBSTITUTION Bernard Parker on for Pienaar.
I was surprised that Parker didn't start. He plays for new Dutch champions Twente.
Pienaar looked very disappointed as he left the pitch. The goal has really flatten the hosts.
8:44 a.m. PT Joe Biden is at the game. I guess going on nice international junket is what Vice-Presidents do.
8:40 a.m. PT GOAL. 1-1 Marquez.
Disappointing for South Africa, but that was a shocker of a goal to concede.
Blanco and Guardado faffed around with a corner for a bit. Eventually Guardado swung in a cross where three Mexican players were lining up behind one South African defender. The rest had all pushed out possibly to play offside, but Marquez collected and slotted past the keeper.
South Africa will regret those missed chance now.
8:39 a.m. PT Blanco is bucking the Mexican trend for orange by wearing white boots. I guess with his name he couldn't wear any other color.
8:37 a.m. PT The South Africa fans look like they can't believe what they are seeing. Yes, your team is winning and looking most likely to score next. Enjoy it!
8:35 a.m. PT SUBSTITUTION Hernandez for Franco. Starting with the experienced West Ham player up front hasn't worked for Mexcio. Let's see what the 22-year old Hernandez can do.
8:33 a.m. PT SUBSTITUTION Brilliant! Mexico's veteran genius Cuauhtemoc Blanco is on for the disappointing Carlo Vela.
If you've never seen his bunny hop it is worth checking out here.
Modise just had a chance to get South Africa's second but Perez blocked well.
8:29 a.m. PT South Africa is playing the counter-attacking game well. Mexico could easily concede a second if it is not careful.
8:27 a.m. PT The pass that set up the goal came from Dikgacoi, who was one of the better South African players in the first half. He plays for Fulham in the English Premier League.
8:22 a.m. PT Dos Santos brings a fine save from Khune with a vicious shot that was heading for the top corner. The Mexican really is a class act.
This game is really lively now.
8:20 a.m. PT SUBSTITUTION Mexico brings on Guardado. Not sure who for, I'm still excited about that cracker of a goal.
8:16 a.m. PT GOAL - South Africa (Tshababala)
1-0 to the hosts. And what a lovely goal.
A great ball behind the defense by Dikgacoi found Tshababala in loads of space and he absolutely smashed it past Perez.
The crowd has gone nuts. Game on!
8:13 a.m. PT Some decent passing amongst the South African midfielders ends with an awful cross from Tshabala.
The hosts need to keep involving Pienaar. The Everton player is easily South Africa's most accomplished attacker.
8:08 a.m. PT SUBSTITUTION South Africa replaces Thwala with Masilela. That's a fullback for a fullback.
The second half has kicked-off.
8:05 a.m. PT According the ESPN guys Mexico hasn't lost its last nine games when it keeps a clean sheet in the first half. Bad news for the hosts.
7:52 a.m. PT Half-time.
An interesting, if unspectacular half. Mexico started well and created a number of good chances.
But South Africa grew into the game and if it can get into Mexcio's face a bit more, they could score.
7:51 a.m. PT There will be one minute of injury time
7:50 a.m. PT South Africa has had four corners in the last couple of minutes. Might have even scored from one as well. Mexico do look vulnerable under a high ball.
7:48 a.m. PT The hum of the vuvuzelas grows louder as South Africa wins a corner. HMMMMM.
Nothing results from it. Hmmmmmm.
7:46 a.m. PT Franco has missed the target from another free header. He must use the tried and trusted that I have for heading a ball. Close your eyes and hope it hits you.
7:44 a.m. PT Vela has just had a goal ruled out for offside. The corner was flicked on past the flailing goalkeeper and Vela put it in at the back post.
Not sure if he was offside. He was level with the flying Khune and there was a South African player on the line. Mexico coach Aguirre is furious.
Actually just saw the reply again, I think he was.
7:42 a.m. PT South Africa is getting more and more of the ball now. But striker Mphela is playing too deep and they can't get the ball near the Mexican goal.
Mexico appear happy to play on the counter-attack. Dos Santos has just won a corner after another greak away.
7:38 a.m. PT Great save from Khune. A lovely little dink behind the South Africa defense by Vela put Franco through. His chest control was good but the keeper stood up well and blocked the Mexican striker's attempted flick past him.
Move of the match.
7:34 a.m. PT Dos Santos looks like the best player on the pitch. He is always look to make things happen. Another sharp run draws a foul from Dikgacoi, who got a yellow card for his trouble.
Marquez lofted the resulting free kick high over the ball. I'm sure he'll blame the altitude.
7:28 a.m. PT Orange boots appear to be in this year. Lots of players on the Mexico team are wearing them. Was there a sale on?
7:26 a.m. PT YELLOW CARD The first of the tournament goes to Mexico's Juarez. More for blocking South Africa's attempt to play a free-kick, than for the foul itself.
Does he get a prize for being the first booking?
Dos Santos went close for Mexico with a shot from distance, but the hosts are definitely getting into this game.
7:23 a.m. PT Pienaar's corn rows and Mexican goalkeeper Perez's shiny bald head are today's top World Cup hairstyles.
A far cry from the glory days of Carlos Valderama.
7:21 a.m. PT Franco had a free header from a Dos Santos corner but really got it all wrong.
The game has lost its way a little bit. No-one is really dominating and most of the action is happening around the middle of the park.
7:18 a.m. PT The stadium seems packed to capacity, everyone is wearing the canary yellow of the Bafana Bafana. Poor Mexico in their black kits look a bit like the bad guys.
It sounds like a swarm of bees are in the stadium as well. That's just the vuvuzelas.
7:12 a.m. PT The host's first attack petered out after Pienaar wasted a cross when in lots of space on the right.
7:08 a.m. PT Mexico's corner didn't result in anything. But it is dominating the ball and seeing lots of action in the South African penalty box.
7:08 a.m. PT That was close! Dos Santos nearly scored for Mexico after South Africa keeper Khune spilled a cross. Portsmouth defender Moekoena blocked it. Corner to Mexico.
7:06 a.m. PT The Mexican players went into a very intense looking huddle before kick-off. They look up for it.
South Africa did a weird thing where they all laid their hands on the head of Steven Pienaar, like he was some kind of god or something.
7:05 a.m. PT And we're off! Let the games begin!
7:03 a.m. PT The referee is from Uzbekistan. That hotbed of football. Slightly delayed kick-off.
6:55 a.m. PT National anthems now.
Lots of passionate singing by the Mexican players.
The South African anthem features lines in five of the countries different language. That must be a nightmare to learn. Still, everyone looks they are giving it a good go.
6:55 a.m. PT The two dignitaries are being introduced to the teams. All the little mascots look like they want a handshake too, but are being politely ignored.
6:55 a.m. PT Sepp Blatter is talking to the crowd, milking the moment. Still, the FIFA president was instrumental in bringing the World Cup to South Africa, so why not?
He has handed over to South African president Jacob Zuma, who immediately commiserated with Nelson Mandela over his recent loss.
"The time for Africa has come", he says.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup is officially open. Woo-hoo!
6:50 a.m. PT The teams have walked out on to the pitch to be greeted by blasts from the infamous vuvuzelas.
Apparently the horns are a common feature of Mexican football so the noise shouldn't be an issue for either team today.
Am I the only one who really doesn't mind the noise? Granted I'm not actually in the stadium having one blasted in my ear, but I think they really add to the atmosphere.
6:45 a.m. PT I've watched Mexico in two of their warm-up games and was very impressed by Javier Aguirre's men. They were fantastic in the win against Italy and were somewhat unlucky to lose to England.
That game did highlight the team's weaknesses though, as Mexico conceded a couple of sloppy goals to a very uninspired England.
If South Africa can get at the Mexican defense, they will give themselves a chance. I think if the wide attackers like Pienaar and Tshabalala can win some free-kicks and corners, it'll be time to send the big guys up from the back to see if they can rattle the Mexcian rearguard.
6:40 a.m. PT The hosts are only the third African team to play in the opening game of a World Cup. They have a lot of live up to though: both previous teams managed suprise 1-0 victories.
Cameroon shocked holders Argentina in 1990, while Senegal did the same to France in 2002. A South Africa win today probably wouldn't cause the same levels of shock, but I'd certainly be surprised.
Looking at the two line-ups you've got to favor Mexico. Most of Parreira's starting 11 are drawn from domestic-based player, whilst Mexico's side come from the world's top leagues.
Nevertheless South Africa have been in great form recently. Unbeaten in 11 games, It's most recent warm-up games included wins against Denmark and Columbia.
And the support of the home crowd should give extra strength to the Bafana Bafana—which literally means the Boys Boys. The term coined back in 1992 after the country's readmission to the sporting world, the idea being to reflect South Africa's rookie status.
6:30 a.m. PT Team news is in.
Nothing too unexpect from either side. Guillermo Franco starts up front for Mexico, in place of young new Manchester United signing Javier Hernandez. South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreria is fielding a very smart formation with two holding midfielders.
South Africa (4-2-3-1)
Gaxa – Mokoena – Khumalo – Thwala
Dikgacoi – Letsholonyane –
Tshabala – Modise – Pienaar
Aguilar – Rodríguez – Osorio– Salcido
Juárez – Marquez – Torrado
Vela – Franco – Giovani Dos Santos
6:23 a.m. PT Coverage has just started on ESPN.
The opening ceremony is well under way. Nelson Mandela isn't there. He had to withdraw at the last minute after tragic death of his great-granddaughter in a car crash.
However we have just seen a shot of another great South African leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu
5:50 a.m. PT Wow, it’s early here on the Pacific Coast. Who knew there was a six o’clock in the morning?
Still, the bleariness and confusion of the early dawn is worth it because after the long wait, THE WORLD CUP IS STARTING TODAY!
Sorry about the caps lock, I got quite excited there. Well it has been four years since the last one.
Anyways, once we get the opening ceremony out of the way, the tournament’s hosts will kick off the 2010 World Cup against Mexico.
I’ll be back shortly with all the build-up and team news as soon as I have it.
In the meantime check out our South Africa vs. Mexico preview.