"A dream came true," declared FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter before the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ got under way today in Johannesburg and there was very nearly a dream start for hosts South Africa. Bafana Bafana started slowly against a slick Mexico side but looked likely winners once Siphiwe Tshabalala had fired them in front in spectacular fashion early in the second half. Instead they had to make do with a draw as Rafael Marquez's 80th-minute equaliser prevented the third African triumph in the Opening Match – and ensured the first draw since 1986. Home fans may bemoan misses by Teko Modise and Katlego Mphela either side of Mexico's leveller, the latter striking a post, yet the first-half supremacy of Javier Aguirre's men meant few neutrals could begrudge them their point.
After that sparkling start in Soccer City, attention switched to Cape Town's Green Point Stadium where 2006 runners-up France endured a frustrating evening against Uruguay. It might have been different had Sidney Govou not turned wide Franck Ribery's inviting ball across goal after seven minutes. Instead a game of few chances unfolded. Yoann Gourcuff and Diego Forlan was each foiled by the opposition keeper but perhaps we should have expected that. Uruguay had not scored a first-half goal in their previous nine FIFA World Cup matches; France had not scored in their two previous opening fixtures on the world stage. Not even the 81st-minute dismissal of Uruguay substitute Nicolas Lodeiro – who earned two yellow cards in 18 minutes on the field – opened the door to France, ensuring Group A remains wide open.
South Africa 1-1 Mexico
Uruguay 0-0 France
Goal of the day
South Africa-Mexico, Siphiwe Tshabalala, 55 mins: Whatever treats lie in store over the next month, the Kaizer Chiefs midfielder's strike is guaranteed a spot among the goals of the tournament. Three South Africa players exchanged passes in the middle of the pitch before Kagisho Dikgacoi's incisive diagonal ball sent Tshabalala breaking clear. Cue a searing left-foot shot from the left side of the penalty box that flew into the far corner and sparked pandemonium inside Soccer City. Some way for the 25-year-old to celebrate winning his 50th cap.
One to remember
After the endearing sight of Archbishop Desmond Tutu dancing in the stands, the South Africa team gave the worldwide television audience the perfect introduction to Africa's FIFA World Cup as they broke into song in the tunnel at Soccer City before taking to the pitch. The message that we are in for something different was writ large in that moment. Here, it seems, it is the players who do the singing – while the fans build a wall of noise with their vuvuzelas.
Quote of the day
"He said, 'The game must start, you must enjoy the game'. We as a country are humbled by this honour to host one of the biggest tournaments in the world. Africa is indeed happy, this is the African World Cup. The time for Africa has come, it has arrived – Ke Nako. Allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to say I am honoured and privileged to be given an opportunity to declare the 2010 FIFA World Cup open," South African president Jacob Zuma relates a message from Nelson Mandela – absent due to a family bereavement – before declaring the 2010 finals open.
Stat of the day
4 – Tshabalala's goal was the fourth time Mexico have conceded the first goal in a FIFA World Cup finals. El Tri had played in the Opening Match four times previously and are still waiting for a win. Down in Cape Town, Thierry Henry became the first Frenchman to appear in four separate FIFA World Cup tournaments when he replaced Nicolas Anelka in the 72nd minute, joining an exclusive club of 17 players.
Voice of the fans
"I have never been more proud of The Boys! Good comeback from Mexico, but what a goal from Tshabalala! And what a miss from Mphela! Bring on the rest of the FWC," FIFA.com user PhelanSA.
Games of the day
Faisee and his champion MARADONA team squeaked into the temporary top spot on Day 1 of McDonald's FIFA World Cup Fantasy. With four saves and a clean sheet, Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera provided the day's best fantasy return (11 points). In Castrol's FIFA World Cup Predictor Challenge, 50 predictors share the summit as they battled their way to a 235-point return. Can one predictor steal centre stage tomorrow?
Have your say
Which team will be happiest after the opening draws in Group A? Can hosts South Africa build on their impressive second-half display against Mexico?