South Africa vs Mexico: 2010 FIFA World Cup Opening Match Preview

Andrew Jordan@@Andrew_JordanSenior Writer IJune 11, 2010

CARSON, CA - JULY 8:  Gonzalo Pineda #14 of Mexico defends as Lucas Thwala #19 of South Africa forwards a pass during the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2005 at the Home Depot Center on July 8, 2005 in Carson, California.  South Africa won 2-1. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

After a wait of 1,443 days since Italy won the 2006 FIFA World Cup final, the 2010 FIFA World Cup has finally started as host nation South Africa faces Mexico at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

Going into this match, South Africa find themselves in the position of becoming the first host nation to fail to advance from the group stage as Bafana Bafana are currently ranked 83rd in the world.

Meanwhile for Mexico, they are looking to advance onto the round of 16 for the fifth consecutive World Cup as coach Javier Aguirre helped to reinvigorate some life into a Mexican side that needed it during qualification.

So now, with the first match of the World Cup about to begin, here is my official preview of the World Cup opener between South Africa and Mexico.

What's on the line:

South Africa

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For Bafana Bafana, this is their opening match in their World Cup, a match that will be maybe the most important game in South African history outside of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in nearby Ellis Park Stadium.

A win here will be a must, especially considering Nelson Mandela will be attending the match.

Mexico

For Mexico, this game will mark yet another World Cup opener, and will be the perfect opportunity to get off to a great start.

Key Players:

South Africa

For South Africa, their key player will be Katlego Mphela.

It will be up to Mephela (who has scored 15 goals in 31 matches for Bafana Bafana) to once again play well and make up for the absence of Benni McCarthy.

Mexico

For Mexico, their key player will be Guillermo Ochoa.

Overall, Ochoa is one of the best players in the world who does not play his club football in Europe, and his great play will be essential if Mexico are to get anything out of this match.

What each side must do to win:

South Africa

For South Africa, it will be to just go out and take full advantage of whatever chance they might get.

Mexico are a side that will capitalize if they get their opportunities, and Bafana Bafana must keep the ball for as long as possible to win here.

Mexico

For Mexico, it will be to just attack, attack, and attack even more.

El Tri do know that South Africa's defense (much like the other African defenses in the World Cup) is extremely susceptible and Mexico could find themselves in the driving seat if they get an early goal.

Biggest Key to Victory:

South Africa

Without question it is the fact that they are at home in a World Cup match. What bigger key to victory could their be than that?

Mexico

Mexico will need to pretend that this match is at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City as El Tri will need that mindset in Soccer City if they are to win.

Projected Lineups:

South Africa: (4-5-1)

                                                     Khune

              Gaxa                   Khumalo              Masilela              Mokoena

       Pienaar           Modise             Tshabalala          Letsholonyane      Khuboni

                                                    Mphela


Mexico: (4-5-1)

                                                 Hernandez

      dos Santos         Castro            Torrado              Guardado           Franco

          Juarez                Osorio                   Marquez                Salcido

                                                   Ochoa

X-Factor:

However, the most important part of this match will not be a player, the pitch, the coaches or anything of that nature.

Instead, the x-factor of this match will be former South African President Nelson Mandela, who will be attending the match despite being 91-years old.

With Mandela, it becomes impossible that South Africa could lose this match.

Prediction:

Once you consider the Mandela factor along with the fact that this will be South Africa's first ever World Cup match on their own soil, there is only side that could win this match.

The winner will be South Africa, as they will pull out an inspiring 3-1 win at Soccer City to start off their World Cup campaign.