Match No. 1, South Africa vs. Mexico: The opening match of the 19th FIFA World Cup will be fought between host South Africa and Mexico. It will be the fourth match between the two sides, but the first in a World Cup.

No home nation has lost in seven previous curtain-raisers in the World Cup, the record standing at five victories (Italy 1934, Brazil 1950, Sweden 1958, Chile 1962 and Germany 2006) and two draws, both of which finished goalless (0-0). Those stalemates were between England and Uruguay in 1966 and Mexico and the Soviet Union in 1970.

From 1974 to 2002, the World Cup opener used to figure the reigning champion; the practice being discontinued in 2006. South Africa is the third African nation to play the opening game of the World Cup. The most frequent result in the World Cup opening game is 1-0, on five occasions followed by 0-0 four times, incidentally in consecutive editions between 1966 and 1978.

In the three previous meetings between South Africa and Mexico, the Central Americans have won 4-0 and 4-2 in 1993 (friendly in Los Angeles) and 2000 (U.S. Cup in Cotton Bowl) respectively, whereas the Bafana Bafana triumphed 2-1 at the first stage of the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2005. Mexico is yet to overcome African opposition in the World Cup, losing 3-1 to Tunisia (which was also the first-ever victory for an African nation in the premier event) in 1978 and splitting points at 0-0 with Angola in 2006.

Match No. 2, France vs Uruguay: This will be the sixth meeting between these two sides. Interestingly, Uruguay has a marginally better head-to-head record with two wins to France's one, plus two draws. In their previous two matches at the World Cup, the South Americans edged out the French 2-1 in 1966 before the sides scrapped to a goalless draw in 2002.

In their other three meetings, Uruguay won 5-1 in the first stage of the 1924 Olympic football tournament in Paris, while, France emerged victorious 2-0 in an international friendly in Paris in 1985, before the two sides played out a 0-0 draw, in a friendly again, in Saint Denis in 2008.

Fact of the day: The South African dugout in Soccer City, Johannesburg, will witness the creation of a new FIFA World Cup record on Friday, as the host team coach Carlos Alberto Parreira takes his seat and becomes the first person to have managed the most number of teams in the tournament.

South Africa 2010 is the sixth assignment for the Brazilian who has been previously in the same chair (like the colourful Yugoslav Serbian Boris Milutinovic) five times: in charge of Kuwait (1982), United Arab Emirates (1990), Brazil (1994/2006) and Saudi Arabia (1998).

Milutinovic, for the record, was coach of Mexico (1986), Costa Rica (1990), USA (1994), Nigeria (1998) and China (2002). — (Compiled by A. Vinod; Source: FIFA)

Keywords: 2010 World Cup

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