By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer
Editor’s note: Each day between now and the kickoff of the first match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 20, we’ll unveil a different memory from World Cup history. The countdown from 101 continues with Siphiwe Tshabalala’s rocket vs. Mexico.
The pressure was on the host nation in the opening match of the 2010 World Cup. South Africa had both the privilege and responsibility of hosting the tournament’s first game on African soil, but fans across the continent feared the worst.
There were serious questions about the ability of Bafana Bafana — which got an automatic berth as the home team — to compete with the best in the sport. South Africa had won just one of its six outings over its two previous World Cup appearances, in 1998 and 2002, and the country had failed to qualify for the 2006 event. In other words, the pressure was on. So when Siphiwe Tshabalala hit a long-range missile past Mexican goalkeeper Oscar Perez and into the very top corner of the net in front of a packed stadium in Johannesburg, the entire continent erupted.
It turned out to be the high point for the hosts, who conceded a late equalizer to El Tri and eventually became the first (and still only) home side not to qualify for the knockout stage. But what a goal it was.
Tshabalala wows the world
Siphiwe Tshabalala made sure he was the first one to score in the first World Cup held on African soil.
One of the leading soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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