As the deafening sound of the Vuvuzela’s pulsated throughout the stadium, Tshabalala received that excellently weighted through ball knowing that millions of people up and down the country were willing him to do exactly what he proceeded to do. Lash the ball home. ITV for all their faults showed one bit of fantastic World Cup television. A family living in poverty in a poor village, who had only recently had access to electricity were watching the match through the medium of a projector projected onto a crisp white bed sheet. The joy in that household typified the joy of a whole nation as the Kaizer Chief’s midfielder got the Bafana Bafana up and running.
The result, in the end, did not matter. Mexico equalised through the commanding Barcelona player Rafael Marquez but the party atmosphere was not dampened as the Vuvuzela’s rang aloud sending a strong beating rhythm throughout the country.
South Africa remain in with a chance of qualification to the second round of the World Cup as Raymond Domenech’s much maligned France side did not inspire against a Uruguay side who had substitute Nicolas Lodiero sent off in the second half. In a quite ironic twist, Thierry Henry’s shouts for a penalty from a handball were turned down by the impressive referee. The event may have had many Irishmen casting a wry smile in the direction of the television.
What looked apparent from the performance of France was the lack of any movement within the team. Yoann Gourcuff, usually a joy to watch, looked shackled by the 3-5-2 system of Uruguay. When he did recieve the ball a lack of confidence was evident as he displayed none of the creative verve that Bordeaux fans have become accustomed to in recent seasons.
The French full-backs Bacary Sagna and the newly instated captain Patrice Evra never posed a threat to the Uruguay back three. The marauding runs usually made for Arsenal and Manchester United respectively were nowhere to be seen. This, added to the poor performance of Gourcuff, left the french without any dynamism, meaning that the Uruguay back three could sit deep and allow the French midfield to pass the ball around aimlessly, knowing that there was no threat of a France player getting in behind Uruguay.
The negativity of the French was illustrated perfectly by the removal of Nicolas Anelka from the fold. At the score 0-0 Raymond Domenech decided to replace the Chelsea striker rather than altering his tactics and including two striker in the line-up. France will have to improve and fast if they have any hope of qualifying from group A, although they may be aided by the fact that the three other teams in the group are all capable of taking points from one another.
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