JOHANNESBURG -- With the ear-splitting noise pounding through his head, Rafael Marquez finally found a way to shut up an entire country.
As all of South Africa prepared to bust out in the biggest bash this continent has seen in years, the Mexican defender silenced the deafening drones of the tooting vuvuzela horns from coast to coast with a huge goal with 11 minutes remaining in regulation that gave the visitors a 1-1 draw at an electric Soccer City Friday.
Marquez’s goal spoiled a potential huge party in the host country, which figured the 2010 World Cup opener would belong to South Africa after Siphiwe Tshabalala had given Bafana Bafana a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute.
No sooner had Tshabalala hit the back of the net than the foundation of the stadium shook from the euphoric fans.
It was a magnificent beginning to the World Cup, the first ever to be hosted by an African nation.
“I think we had a very good first half, but we weren’t capable of really finishing our chances,” Mexican manager Javier Aguirre said. “The team was confident we could score and win the match, but we missed a few chances and things got complicated after they scored. The South African goalkeeper was really great and I wouldn’t say we panicked, but we definitely got a little anxious after conceding the goal.”
Fortunately it was Marquez to the rescue.
“I think in the first half, we were able to impose our game and we didn’t give them room to manoeuvre,” Aguirre said. “But in the second half, they were very good on the counter-attack.”