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Posts Tagged ‘France

No Madiba and karma is a bitch (Day 1)

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The man they call Madiba was missing in grievous circumstances, but the Bafana Bafana used that as in inspiration to play out a high-octane tournament opener against Mexico. Elsewhere, karma (or the ghost of Rep. Ireland past) came back to bite Thierry Henry as the French, for the third tournament running, managed only a draw from their first match.

Mexico have played more tournament openers than any team in history, and it showed as they came out all guns blazing terrorizing the South African’s with some intricate movement. Chief architect was Giovani dos Santos and he and Carlos Vela combined superbly to run the host’s ragged. The occasion

Thabalalalalalaalala....

seemed to overawe the South African’s and they were lucky to go into the break all square. All that changed in the second half as South Africa came out all guns blazing and a swift counterattack soon ended with Siphiwe Thsabalala blasting home a beauty from just inside the box. As far as opening goals go, this will take some betterment and 80,000 vuvuzelas trumpeted their approval in the deafening din of the stadium. South Africa have never lost when Tshabalala have scored, and that record remained intact even as Mexico grabbed an equaliser through captain Rafael Marquez. The match the developed into an end-to-end affair devoid of tactical discipline and both sides could have grabbed a winner, although none did. At the end, both sides will rue not getting three points from the game but the hosts will be satisfied to have kept the World Cup tradition of host’s not losing openers intact.

In the day’s second match, the French also kept up traditions. Les Blues had not won opening games in 2002 and 2006 and they did not this time either.

It was a dull, insipid showing from the French whose tactical make-up left a lot to be desired. Thierry Henry was on the bench along with Florent Malouda but both entered the fray for the relatively anonymous Yoann Gourcuff and Nicolas Anelka. That changed little in the grand scheme of

Sparks flew, but no goals

things even as Uruguay’s Nicolas Lodeiro managed to be sent off in less than twenty minutes of on-pitch action. The French had missed a glorious chance in the first half after Franck Ribery had shrugged off his marker and put in Sidney Govou, but the Uruguayans could count themselves as unlucky after Diego Forlan hurried his volley wide of the post. It was evens to the end, when Thierry Henry drew a blatant handball inside the box from an Uruguay player. Believers the world over, had a field day, as the referee waved play on. Henry could only smile ruefully.

The Good:

  • After a stunned start, the Bafana Bafana made a game of it against a technically superior Mexico side, with some attractive and energetic play
  • Giovani dos Santos was cerebral; his passing and movement always a threat
  • Diego Forlan missed a glorious chance, but aside from that, he showed all the skills required of a top class forward. His turn at the half-way line to leave Abou Diaby on his back, was world-class

The Bad:

  • Raymond Domenech. It takes a certain level of genius to get so many high-quality players to play this poorly (circa Raphael Hoingstein)
  • Vuvuzela’s. They should be banned, period.

Written by quazi zulquarnain

June 12, 2010 at 7:34 am