Mexico and Uruguay poised to advance from Group A

June 21st, 2010 - 4:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Chelsea Bloemfontein, June 21 (DPA) A draw would be enough for Uruguay and Mexico to progress to the last 16 of the World Cup football Tuesday, in the process knocking out hosts South Africa and France who clash in the other Group A match.
But Mexico, who drew their opener 1-1 with South Africa and then beat France 2-0, have inferior goal difference to Uruguay, and may be less inclined to settle for the single point in Rustenburg.

A second place finish in the group would probably see them face an on-form Argentina in the second round.

Admirably free-flowing in their approach, with an adventurous system that morphs between 4-3-3 and 3-4-3 as both captain Rafael Marquez and the two full-backs have licence to get forward, Mexico’s attacking style faces its toughest test yet against a Uruguay team that is yet to concede a goal.

After neutralising France in their goalless opener, Uruguay then turned in a consummate performance to first stifle South Africa and then pick them off on the break, winning 3-0.

South Africa play France in Bloemfontein knowing they have to win and score as many goals as possible if they are to stand any chance of avoiding becoming the first World Cup host nation to be knocked out in the first round.

At the Free State Stadium, Bafana Bafana look to count on the support of the home crowd who have a reputation as the most passionate in the land.

They could also draw additional advantage from the turmoil that has hit the French side ahead of the match.

Dismal performances with Uruguay and in particular against Mexico, preceded internal rows that have left Les Bleus in disarray.

First, striker Nicolas Anelka was expelled from the squad after he refused to apologise for insulting coach Raymond Domenech during the half-time break of the match with Mexico.

Then Sunday on the eve of France’s departure for Bloemfontein, the players walked out of a training session at their Knysna base camp, in protest of the Chelsea striker’s expulsion.

It remains to be seen if France will be able to find some semblance of team cohesion for the game in Bloemfontein.

Both Domenech and South Africa’s Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira will be forced to make some changes to their starting line-ups.

Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune who was sent off against the Latin Americans after conceding a penalty, is likely to be replaced by Moeneeb Josephs, while Thanduyise Khuboni could step in for Fulham midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi who is also suspended.

In addition, several players performed poorly against Uruguay, including fullback Siboniso Gaxa, captain and centreback Aaron Mokoena and wide midfielder Teko Modise, and cannot be sure of starting in Bloemfontein.

And with South Africa’s negative 3 goal difference, Parreira may also seek to beef up an attack which has been based on lone striker Katlego Mphela.

In Anelka’s absence, Barcelona’s Thierry Henry is likely to start the match for France who will also be missing suspended Olympique Lyon midfielder Jeremy Toulalan.

Bordeaux’s Yoann Gourcuff whose exclusion by Domenech against Mexico was criticised by Zinedine Zidane among others, could be recalled to the team in his play-making role.

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