Quick points on South Africa-Mexico

South African star Steven Pienaar struggled to offer much to the home team's attack.

Some quick points to ponder on an opener that made pulses race, even if it wasn’t always the best of quality.

– I really like the way Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov made the players behave. An early yellow card to Mexico for delaying a restart will put other teams on notice, which will help make for a better tourney.

– Same old Mexico, a team that just can’t keep its eye on the bigger prize. As soon as South Africa struck against the run of play, Gerardo Torrado picked up a needless, dunder-headed yellow card. He was looking to exact a little physical retribution rather than leading by example and remaining focused on getting the equalizer and, perhaps, the eventual winner. Too bad, too, because Mexico has some great young players, as we saw.

– None of us can imagine how much pressure is on the South Africans, desperate to lift a hopeful nation. Sure enough, Bafana Bafana looked overwhelmed by the moment in the first half. Transition into offense was labored. Nervous legs didn’t seem to step into Mexican passes when the opportunities begged, and too many Bafana passes lacked authority. They often looked like a golfer with the yips, unable to loosen the muscles enough to nail the short putts. They did look better after the break.

– Cuauhtemoc Blanco is 37. He looked 47. For those who believe Mexican soccer is overly touched by politics, Blanco’s inclusion looked like Exhibit A on Friday.

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