South Africa’s form leading up to the World Cup has been indifferent, despite recent successes against Colombia and Denmark. Draws with Jamaica and North Korea disheartened the usually lively spirit amongst the South African camp, something which is a stark contrast to Mexico’s recent form – including a brilliant 2-1 victory over reigning World Champions Italy.
But despite their free-flowing style, Mexico do have their major weaknesses. El Tri rarely keep a clean sheet – even conceding to Gambia – something which the likes of Steven Pienaar and Katlego Mphela should look to exploit if the Bafana Bafana have serious ambitions of taking three points. The defensive frailties were clear to see in friendlies against England and Holland, coinciding with captain Rafael Marquez’s recent dip in form.
Carlos Parreira is expected to start with a similar side to the one that saw off Denmark 1-0, sticking with his ‘trusty’ 4-5-1 formation. Despite the recent hype about Moeneeb Joesphs’ it is believed that Khune will regain his place in goal, with Aaron Mokoena marshalling his defence. Pienaar will provide the attacking threat from midfield, while South Africa’s goalscoring hopes will rest on the shoulders of Mphela.
Mexico coach Javier Aguirre is expected to use Arsenal’s Carlos Vela as the spearhead of his side, with the youngster undoubtedly El Tri’s dangerman. The pacy forward has skill in abundance and can make space from almost any position possible, something which the likes of Mokoena and Siboniso Gaxa will have to be wary of.
South Africa are unexpected to trouble the huge-favourites Mexico, although ‘home’ advantage must be taken into account. 99% of the stadium will be praying for a Bafana Bafana victory, something which those eleven yellow-shirted men will aspire towards. A draw looks favourable at 2/1 with Corals, with Mexico at 13/8 for victory.
Prediction: South Africa 2-2 Mexico