Rosey’s World Cup Round-up Day 1

by Ashleigh Rose

Friday, June 11th, 2010

The big kick-0ff

So there we have it, day one over and done with and boy was it worth the wait. Ok so Group A’s opening games wasn’t the most scintillating  football I’ve ever seen nd nor will it go down as one the best opening days there’s been but it’s certainly wetted the appetite.

Of course before the action could even get underway we were treated to the now traditional opening ceremony.  This year’s extravaganza featured everything from giant dung beetles and African drums to a giant map made out of people and a random appearance by R’n’B superstar R Kelly. Where did he come from?  Didn’t his career die alongside those ‘allegations’ years ago? Could we not have had more of Shakira shaking her hips like the night before? No?

It was then down to business, as the South African team led out singing and dancing by Portsmouth’s Aaron Mokena took on group A opponents Mexico, The teams were greeted  to a wall of noise from the vuvuzela trumpets from the sold-out crowd,  a sound that will become both synonymous with this year’s tournament and annoy the crap out of everyone with its bee like racket.  The Mexican’s had impressed many with their style of play during their recent friendly with England and they had the best of the first-half, with part-time Tottenham player Giovanni Dos Santos being the stand-out player as they stretched the hosts defence on a number of occasions. Their dominance however wasn’t rewarded with a goal and ten minutes into the first half South Africa lit-up Soccer City when Siphiwe Tshabalala finished off a blistering counter-attack with an electric strike that even at this early stage has put down a marker as one of the goals of the tournament. I’d only been saying for the previous 54 minutes how much I liked saying Siphiwe’s surname so it was only right the winger scored this year’s opener with a finish that would have Andy Gray shouting “Tikaboo son” at the top of his voice.

The host’s fairytale beginning looked like being enough until ten minutes from time. Some slack defending in the box saw Barcelona’s Rafael Marquez in aches of space, and the defender slotted the ball into the net to give Mexico a share of the points. It was no more than Mexico deserved and for the first time since proceedings began the trumpets briefly stopped.

In the days other fixture, Uruguay took on France in what was largely an unforgettable affair. The French failed to live up to their tag as group favourites and the game was short on both chances and quality, so was no surprise it finished goalless. Raymond Domenech baffled everyone once again with his tactics (how has he kept that job?) and the French team looked cagey and soon ran out of ideas. For anyone who has had a bet on them to win the whole thing, they may want a re-think after this dismal showing. The only notable moment was Uruguay’s Nicolas Lodiero being sent off for after a dangerous lunge on Backary Sagna that saw him earn a second yellow and an early bath. The result though leaves Group A wide open after one game with each team on a point a piece and would be difficult to predict who will actually progress from this group, although I do fancy Uruguay having already played arguably their toughest game.

Quite a cagy opening day then, that was briefly lit-up by South Africa’s brilliant strike, however there are high hopes for tomorrow’s events as Argentina get their campaign underway against Nigeria, South Korea clash with Greece and the little matter of England taking on the US of A! Sounds out of the England camp are suggesting that Rob Green will be getting the nod to start in goal, while Michael Carrick and Emile Heskey could also make the first XI against the Americans. Having watched England enough times a tournaments and knowing we are generally slow starters, I’m going for a 1-1 draw.

The World Cup is here, so bring it on!

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