Mixed reviews on host nation's tie

Mexico’s Rafael Marquez, right, reacts after scoring during the group A match between South Africa and Mexico at the soccer World Cup in Soccer City, Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, June 11, 2010. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)

By CHRIS ZIEMER

(Editor’s note: Chris Ziemer, Sonoma Academy athletic director and head girls soccer coach, is blogging for The Press Democrat at the World Cup in South Africa).

SOUTH AFRICA –

Day 1 in the books…

South Africa’s 1-1 tie vs. Mexico was immediately met with mixed reviews here in South Africa.

Some were happy with the overall performance and grabbing a point, especially as the France vs. Uruguay result also ended in a goal-less tie.

Others felt like three points were there for the taking.

In the end, after a shaky start, it was something to build on. In fact, I’m watching the highlights and the general media consensus is that the game was a success.

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Crazy day..

I woke up before 4 a.m. for the fourth consecutive day, only this time it was planned as we needed to take care of some work because the masses had taken to the streets.

About noon, we were considering where to watch the game and took off to our base office to finish a few things.

A drive which normally took 30 minutes took over three hours! Strangely enough, it was a lot of fun, as South African fans took to the streets, heading to the stadium, the FanFest or wherever they decided to watch the game.

The result… massive gridlock.

It was a spirited group with horns honking, flags waving and of course the vuvuzela’s being blown, including one by our driver Chere.

It actually turned into a pregame festival as everyone inched along. Unfortunately, it changed our timing and forced us to watch the game at our office instead of the FanFest, but I felt like we got a good feel for the passion of the fans during the drive, and as it is Game 1 of 62, there will be plenty of opportunities to watch games live.

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USA – USA – USA…

I will fly back to Durban on Saturday and plan to watch the U.S. game at the Durban FanFest on the beach!

I get the feeling that South African fans are pulling for the USA, and our taxi driver tonight even went as far as saying we had the better team.

He might have been thinking about his tip. I have been surprised at the number of people who know a fair amount about the U.S. team, mostly because of our strong showing in the Confederations Cup here last summer. In fact, the TV adds for the game say England takes on the powerful USA.

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Wedding bells…

Two of our former coaches at Sonoma Academy, Mike Peller, who played at Harvard and coached the boys soccer team; and Kelsey Sullivan, who was an assistant coach with me with the girls team and coached lacrosse, are getting married on Saturday in New England.

I planned to attend, but obviously decided to take the chance to come to Africa. The least I can do is let them know I am thinking about them and hope they have a great day.

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Disci dance…

When South Africa scored, several of their players joined in the Disci Dance, which is a dance based around soccer movements.

It’s been on TV quite a bit and looks like fun although our driver Chere attempted to teach me parts of it, but I lack the rhythm needed to make it flow.

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First live game on Sunday…

I can’t wait to be in the stadium for the Germany vs. Australia game in Durban. I imagine Durban will be flooded with Aussies and Germans when I return tommorow so it should be good fun watching the U.S. game with fans from around the world.