So the World Cup is finally under-way and so I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the opening day of the tournament. It was a day that delivered moments of mixed emotion, from the inspirational to the tediously irritating.
The matches themselves were predictably closely contested encounters. In the opening match, the hosts played most of the game on the back foot while Mexico lacked the quality to break them down. It was an entertaining match that came to life in the second half and South Africa did have their moments though and showed they were capable of some slick one touch passing which threatened to carve open the Mexican defence on a number of occasions. The highlight of the match was, of course, the spectacular strike by Siphiwe Tshabalala ten minutes into the second half, at which point there will have been few neutrals not hoping that the home team could not hold on for a famous victory. Rafael Marquez's simple back post finish spoilt the party and earned Mexico a point with just twelve minutes remaining.
In the evening match France and Uruguay played out a forgettable 0-0 draw. The French team under Raymond Domenech is in a state of disarray as each day is met with new strories of unrest within the squad and their failure to beat a 10-man Uruguay team will have done little to settle matters. Both of yesterday's matches illustrated the difficulty of producing good football from the start of a major tournament. All of the teams showed the inevitable problems of playing as a cohesive unit after only a few weeks training a handful of disjointed warm-up matches and as such the fact that all the points were shared is not surprising.
As much as I would like to be writing this post purely to sing the praises of the South Africa 2010 that is not the case. The passion and enthusiasm that the hosts have brought to the competition has been extremely refreshing and certainly a positive aspect of the tournament and therefore I do not want to overshadow this. The vuvzelas are, however, threatening to do just that. I am aware that I am running the risk of sounding like an old man complaining about people playing their music too loud but I find the horns utterly infuriating. It is less about the sound the horns make, which resembles a swarm of angry bees, but it is more to do with what the horns drown out. How many times during either of yesterday's matches could you hear the cheers, groans, whistles, boos, chants or songs of the crowd? I can struggle to think of many. The fans, who create the atmosphere in any match, were replaced by the endless and monotonous noise of these horns.
The second thing that annoyed me yesterday was the punditry. I thought that Adrian Chiles did a good job on ITV but the people in the studio for both the BBC and ITV were, in my opinion, boring. They were as insightful as they were charismatic and that is not even to mention Alan Hansen's patronising tone towards Emmanuel Adebayor – very uncomfortable. This is not a shock as these are the faces we have become use to but 31 days of it could grow tiresome. The sooner people realise that being a 'great footballer' does not translate into having a personality suitable for television the better. I may be misplaced in my criticism of the punditry and the horns, does no one else find them annoying?
Nevertheless, we have three more games to look forward to today and each promises to be an entertaining encounter (as most matches will). England will finally get their campaign under-way this evening and I, like many, am expecting a slow start from the team in what could prove to be a tough test from the USA.
Thoughts, comments and opinions please...