LatAm teams kick off WCup with mixed results
Decent start, can do better. That could be the report card for
the three Latin American sides that have played their opening
matches in the World Cup.
Argentina leads the way with its opening 1-0 win against
Nigeria, but Mexico’s 1-1 draw with host nation South Africa and
10-man Uruguay’s point from a 0-0 draw against 1998 champion France
were both received with cautious optimism back home.
Argentina “suffered” while clinging to a 1-0 lead, Mexico was
“lucky” and “breathes again” after scoring a late equalizer and
Uruguay had “no creativity” and “struggled” to hold on. That
was the assessment by media in the three countries.
The remaining Latin American teams play their opening matches in
the coming days. Paraguay plays Italy on Monday, five-time winner
Brazil takes on North Korea on Tuesday, while Honduras plays Chile
The last time that a Latin American team besides Brazil won the
World Cup was Argentina in 1986. The South American country also
won it in 1978.
Argentina clung nervously to an early goal from Gabriel Heinze
on Saturday after failing to convert a number of clear
opportunities. Argentina would have sweated less had Lionel Messi
found a way past Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
“Argentina suffered to beat Nigeria in a debut of ups and
downs,” according to La Prensa newspaper, while the headline in
Clarin was “Argentina suffered but took the first step.”
More pointedly, Messi’s performance was appreciated by a home
media often critical that his form for Barcelona seldom
materializes in an Argentina shirt.
“Messi was the player that everybody was hoping to see,” La
Prensa newspaper said.
Uruguay, which won the first World Cup in 1930 and again in
1950, may have to wait a bit longer after Friday’s performance
The match produced an opening day dud. France winger Franck
Ribery and Uruguay striker Diego Forlan showed flashes of their
potential, but the fear of losing the opening game stifled
offensive tactics for much of the match.
On paper, Uruguay’s scoreless draw with France after having
Nicolas Lodeiro sent off looks a better result, but there was
frustration back home with the general performance.
El Pais online columnist Eduardo Pinon said being tough to beat
won’t get the team through the group.
“There was no creativity and all that ended up happening was a
struggle. Just struggling,” he wrote. “We played very little, and
just getting stuck in won’t be enough.”
Mexico, meanwhile, had trouble converting possession and
build-up play into goals in the first half against South Africa on
Friday when chance after chance was spurned in the tournament’s
first match. South Africa took the lead in the 55th minute, leaving
the Mexicans to chase nervously for an equalizer. Mexico finally
got it in the 79th.
The main culprit against South Africa was Argentina-born striker
Guillermo Franco, who may find his place coming under pressure from
Manchester United signing Javier Hernandez.
Mexican newspapers reflected the relief of fans back home that
an opening day loss had been averted.
“A lucky draw,” said El Universal, while Reforma newspaper
said: “El Tri breathes again after draw.”
Uruguay plays its next match against South Africa on June 16,
while Mexico plays France a day later.