World Cup Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, June 11, 2010 (All times Eastern)

South Africa (0-0-0) vs. Mexico (0-0-0), 10 a.m.

Johannesburg, South Africa (Sports Network) - South Africa has never advanced past the group stage in its two previous World Cups, but coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is confident ahead of the tournament opener against Mexico on Friday.

South Africa, which qualified for the World cup in 1998 and 2002, is unbeaten in 12 straight matches leading up to its first World Cup match in eight years.

Although South Africa's history doesn't measure up to most World Cup teams, it did compete for a knockout-round berth in 2002. Paraguay edged South Africa in that tournament on the second tiebreaker for goals scored to advance.

Parreira guided Brazil to the 1994 World Cup title, so he knows how to compete on the international level, but his biggest challenge this time is not winning - it's surviving.

No host nation has ever failed to make the knockout stage, and Mexico presents a tough challenge in the Group A opener. Mexico has reached the knockout round in its last four World Cups, and is the favorite to win the group.

South Africa tuned up for the tournament against mainly smaller opponents, but in its last warm-up, edged fellow World Cup qualifier Denmark 1-0.

Katlego Mphela scored his 13th international goal in the 67th minute and South Africa needs him to show that form in Group A, especially after Parreira left all-time leading scorer Benni McCarthy off the World Cup squad.

"The boys proved that they have what it takes to perform at this level," South Africa captain Aaron Mokoena said on FIFA's website.

"Now we have to keep the momentum going."

Mexico went through a gauntlet ahead the World Cup with games against England, the Netherlands and Italy. The Mexicans dropped the games against England and Holland, but beat Italy 2-1 on goal from Carlos Vela and Alberto Medina in its last warm-up match.

South Africa will need an inspired effort against Javier Aguirre's Mexico, but even a good effort would lift the hosts confidence against France and Uruguay.