There was not much for Itumeleng Khune to do, except for a few telling saves. The communication with his defence was probably the cause of the Mexican goal. Being in there, he gets all the vuvuzela noise between him and his defence. Otherwise a good performance. The Mexican goalie was instrumental in playing outside his box, pushing and squeezing the game. He came off his line on several occassions in timely and decisive moments.
The defence was generally solid with very few but worrying cracks. The biggest problem was too much too fast a retreat into the defending 3rd. The retreat created a gap between the defence and the midfield which did not quickly early enough.The Mexican defence in comparison, had half their game in the middle 3rd, the goalkeeper playing sweeper. The communication was also a course for concern. Mexico pushed forward to help congest the midfield that became unplayable.
This section of the game was too cautious to begin with. The Mexicans knew South Africa needed space to play the game. They then eliminated the spaces by pushing their defence to the middle zone of the pitch. This strangled Steven Pienaar, Lstsholongane, Tshabalala. Kagiso Dikgacoi had to contend with mounting pressure coming from the advancing middlefield and he committed a lot of fouls. The Bafana Bafana midfield thus completely retreated putting excessive pressure on the defence. This was very evident later in the second half leading to the goal. Worse of all, when the defence was not retreating further, instead of being compact in the front of Mokoena and Bongani Khumalo, they spread wide to the sides, inviting Mexico to penetrate through cetntre.
Similar story basically, except maybe to say that the single man upfront could not get enough support from the withdrawing team. Katlego roamed the pitch searching for the ball that wasn’t forthcoming, that not being his duty. The Mexican defence really had no business baby sitting an adult when the 2010 World Cup had just started. So they flooded forward, bolstering their attack by the domino effect. As they surged forward, they managed to have so many people in good attacking positions that they spread wide, creating opportunities that led to the goal.
I think a very telling comprehension of the game by the Coach must be noted. I had not seen that one coming and it paid dividents. Thwala lacks patience and while Masilela also tackles carelessly sometimes, the Coach thought of his experience overseas, having played UEFA Champions’ League football. Steve Pienaar was tired to complete that game, contributing more to Mexico’s project. The Mexican coach is suspicious when it comes to his reading of the game. Carlos Vela was a thorn in Bafana defance. Blanco is an old toothless dog, frankly. He has seen better days and has lost pace.
The unfortunate thing about this group is that they have a similar taste of things. They will surely play entertaining football but hard to predict. I will not give Mexico much chance, despite a good perforance against Bafana Bafana. I still await the France vs Paraguay to see.
For now, keep checking if Australia are on standby to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Please feel free to give me your thoughts and comments below.