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Mexico draws with South Africa, 1-1, in World Cup opener

June 11, 2010 |  2:56 pm

Fans world cup zocalo mexico south africa

Eyes around the world were on Mexico and South Africa as the national soccer teams took to the field Friday at Soccer City in Johannesburg for the opening match of the 2010 World Cup, the first held in Africa. Expectations were high for both the host squad -- nicknamed "The Boys" -- and the surging Mexicans. El Tri, as Mexico's team is known, has impressed the international soccer world with the most rigorous pre-Cup schedule of any squad and an impressive win over reigning World Cup champion Italy a week ago.

In the end, Mexico took a draw with South Africa, 1-1, with a goal by defender Rafael Marquez. The Times's Grahame L. Jones, reporting from the stadium, observed: "Another nail-biting game like this, and Mexico Coach Javier Aguirre is going to run screaming into the African hills."

In Mexico City, streets were strangely empty as many fans stayed indoors to watch the game, which aired live at 9 a.m. The Times' Tracy Wilkinson, reporting on preparations before the game, noted that even "the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico offered a prayer for the team" this week. Schools and businesses screened the match, restaurants opened early, and a huge screen was placed on the city's Zocalo square, which filled with fans, as seen above.

The L.A. Times is carrying full coverage of the World Cup here. Check out a cool interactive World Cup schedule here. Other Latin American teams to watch are Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Honduras, and Uruguay, which is a rival of Mexico in Group A.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: Fans at the Zocalo to cheer on Mexico at the World Cup in South Africa. Credit: El Universal