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Rafael Marquez equaliser denies hosts three points

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A 79th minute equaliser from Rafael Marquez denied South Africa an opening match win after a stunning strike from Siphiwe Tshabalala had given the host nation the lead ten minutes into the second half.

For most of the second half it looked like Carlos Alberto Parreira’s side were going to give their fans the win that they dreamed off after a goal-less first half.

Ten minutes into the second period Tshabalala sent a nation into raptures with a stunning goal that is bound to be shown again and again over the coming weeks.

Breaking quickly out of their own half the ball was played into the strikers path with Mexican ‘keeper Oscar Perez not getting a look in as the ball flew across him high into the net from 20 yards out.

South Africa had a couple of half chances to build on their lead but the Mexicans refused to panic and took advantage of poor defending when Marquez found himself alone 10 yards from goal to drill the ball into the net.

Suddenly it seemed that South Africa could end up losing the match after the euphoria of Tshabalala’s goal as Mexico pushed forward for a winner.

It was South Africa however who came closest to winning the match when Katlego Mphela struck the post in the 89th minute with Mexican keeper Perez looking lost.

As opening matches go this was a bit special and certainly gives hope that this tournament could be memorable.

South Africa looked capable but lacked discipline, Parreira’s side now that they have the opener out of the way look capable of qualifying with Uruguay coming next on Wednesday.

Referee Ravshan Irmativ will be welcome in the SPL anytime, he did the job in the old fashioned way, quietly in the background without the dramatics normally associated with Scottish referees and was ably assisted by the assistant that ruled out a first half Mexican ‘goal’ with a marginal offside call.

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