South Africa vs Mexico – Mphela can fire hosts to winning start
South Africa vs Mexico, kick-off Friday 3pm
Soccer City will be drowned in the ear-piercing sound of vuvuzela horns when hosts South Africa take on Mexico in the opening game of the World Cup.
South Africa enter the tie having gone 12 games without defeat, and with a nation’s irrepressible enthusiasm behind them, Bafana Bafana are raring to go.
They are a very tempting 15/8 to beat Mexico, who have been touted by many as dark horses for the tournament.
South Africa’s Katlego Mphela has four goals in his last three international appearances, including the winner in Bafana Bafana’s 1-0 victory against Denmark, and he is an enticing 7/1 to score first against Mexico.
The Central Americans should be careful not to concede too many fouls around the penalty area. Mphela scored a breathtaking free-kick against Spain in last year’s Confederations Cup, and his recent form suggests that the striker will be a major threat.
Javier Aguirre’s side are in decent form themselves, having recorded consecutive victories against Gambia and Italy.
Mexico’s Guillermo Franco and Javier Hernandez are the favourites to open the scoring, at 6/1 apiece. Manchester United’s Hernandez is particularly appealing at this price, having claimed three goals from his last three caps.
In the most recent meeting between the sides, in 2005, South Africa were 2-1 winners. A repeat of this outcome is priced at 9/1.
While Mexico are in reasonable form, South Africa’s longer unbeaten run and home support could provide the hosts with the necessary momentum to open their campaign with a win.