[GROUP A] Of the six African teams at the World Cup, South Africa is the least Europeanized, but the Bafana Bafana's local stars were a match for highly rated Mexico. As for France-Uruguay, who really believed it wouldn't end 0-0?
What we liked ...
-- After a pitiful first half, South Africa took the game to Mexico and should have beaten the Tri in Friday's opener. Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said the pressure was too much for his team of mostly domestic-based players -- eight out of 11 starters -- it took time for them to begin to play their game.
-- Few outside South Africa knew of Siphiwe Tshabalala before the tournament started, but he celebrated his 50th cap with a stunning goal against Mexico. Katlego Mphela, another of the domestic-based players who have thrived under Parreira, could have won the game for South Africa but hit the post in the dying minutes.
-- It was perhaps too much to expect Mexico's young stars to live up to the hype, but Giovani dos Santos, for one, had an excellent game.
What we didn't like ...
-- The 0-0 tie in the France-Uruguay was so frustrating because it was predictable. The French don't look like they want to be at the World Cup -- sort of like eight years ago when they also tied Uruguay. They certainly didn't attack like they wanted to win. Bleus coach Raymond Domenech reverted to his favored 4-2-3-1 formation, dropping winger Florent Malouda for a second holding midfielder, Abou Diaby.
-- Bleus coach Raymond Domenech almost treated the result like a victory. "It is almost a beautiful 0-0."
-- Nicolas Lodeiro is supposed to be one of the young stars of Uruguayan soccer, but he was sent off after receiving a second yellow card in only 18 minutes of play.