Javier Aguirre's Mexico players left Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg with mixed feelings after their 1-1 draw with hosts South Africa, their relief at salvaging a point tempered by frustration at failing to get off to a winning start in Group A.
As the players left the dressing room one by one on their way to boarding the team bus, several took the time to talk exclusively to FIFA.com about the lessons learned from the keenly contested Opening Match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
At the post-match press conference, coach Aguirre chose to highlight* El Tri's adverse reaction to *Bafana Bafana’s opener, scored by Siphiwe Tshabalala after 55 minutes. In full agreement was experienced defender Carlos Salcido, who said: "They improved a lot after their goal, set out their stall well and kept their shape out on the pitch. We wasted a lot of passes chasing the equaliser and so they had more chances."
On the same wavelength was defensive colleague Ricardo Osorio, clearly fatigued after helping repel a flurry of late South Africa counter-attacks. "The truth is that we were charging around too much looking for the equaliser," said the Stuttgart man. "That tired us out and left us exposed to their speed on the break. That's why they went close to scoring in the last few minutes."
It’s a fair result because both teams were on top for a half each. But we had a lot of opportunities in the first period and if we’d taken them it could have been a different story.
Mexico's finishing also left something to be desired. El Tricolor were unable to convert a number of clear opportunities before the interval and gradually allowed the host nation back into the game. "We played a very good first half but couldn't take our chances and ended up paying for it," said forward Javier Hernandez, who joined the fray after the break. "When I came on, one chance fell my way but their defenders closed me down well and I couldn't find the net."
"It's a fair result because both teams were on top for a half each. But we had a lot of opportunities in the first period and if we'd taken them it could have been a different story," added Salcido. Osorio came to a similar conclusion, saying: "We were on top for the first 45 minutes but we still went in 0-0 at the break, which was why we had such a hard time of it in the second half."
All in all, Mexico clearly know what needs to be put right ahead of their next encounter against France on 17 June in Polokwane. So, can coach Aguirre iron out the flaws on the training ground and inspire his men to their first win of these finals? Or will their failure to take the spoils against Bafana Bafana haunt them yet further after meeting the 1998 world champions?