Bafana – so close to glory
when their fans had started to make the louder noise here.
With Tshabalala’s goal coming with some 35 minutes remaining, they had all the time to stage a comeback.
Bafana, however, should have done better to defend Rafael Marquez’s 79th-minute goal.
On occasions such as this, finger-pointing is not ideal, but we have to question Aaron Mokoena’s positional play in the lead up to Mexico’s goal.
The captain, partnered by the fast-improving Bongani Khumalo, had done relatively well up to that point.
But as his teammates pushed out following Mexico’s short corner, Mokoena somehow remained behind, allowing Marquez to reach a cross, trap and fire past Itumeleng Khune.
It was a soft goal to concede considering Bafana had dealt adequately with more dangerous attempts from the Mexicans, not least in a first half in which the home team were clearly second best.
As early as the second minute, Paul Aguilar swung over a cross which Khune could only parry back into play, but Mokoena was on hand to block the dangerous Carlos Vela’s attempt.
Aguilar was easily Mexico’s most serious threat to Bafana in that one-sided first half, piercing through Lucas Thwala’s defences with ease, but Parreira, thankfully, detected that danger early and ordered Tsepo Masilela to warm up.
Vela first profited from a Modise mistake in the heart of midfield but his shot flew just over Khune’s bar.
The Arsenal midfielder also had a goal disallowed for offside because he “scored” when Khune had come off his line and with Bafana only having a single man on the goalline.
Mexico protested but not for too long, as they had to defend soon thereafter as Bafana finally came out of their blocks.
It was a pity that Mphela could not get to the end of a brilliant cross by Tshabalala, but the latter found a goal himself 10 minutes into the second half.
As Parreira warned, it came during one of Bafana’s breaks, with quick interpassing that involved Modise and Kagisho Dikgacoi freeing Tshabalala to blast the ball impressively past Oscar Perez.
Soccer City erupted, but Bafana failed to find that reassuring second goal when Modise, sent clear by Siboniso Gaxa, could not score amid protests of a penalty by home fans.
Khune, meanwhile, kept Bafana ahead with the save of the match to thwart Giovani Dos Santos from a tight angle.
But Marquez’s goal burst Bafana’s bubble, although they could have had a winner when Mphela struck the post from close range 20 minutes from the end.
WHAM: Siphiwe Tshabalala scores for South Africa against Mexico in yesterday’s World Cup opening match in Johannesburg.