During the 1938 World Cup in France, FIFA introduced a new rule which gave the host country automatic entry into the tournament. Big mistake.
204 teams competed over 3 years for a spot in this year’s World Cup. As the host nation, South Africa automatically qualified for the tournament. The host nation is currently 83rd in the FIFA world rankings. Let me put that into perspective a little bit; Canada holds the 63rd spot, 20 ahead of South Africa.
The FIFA world rankings are based on each team’s performance over the passed four years. Matches are weighted according to significance which makes these rankings fairly accurate.
Since the host nation automatically qualifies for the World Cup, they do not have to participate in the qualifying match-ups. This year, South Africa became the first nation to take part in the preliminary qualifying because it also applied for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations (CAF). With a record of 1-4-1 South Africa did not qualify for the CAF this year.
Given that this is the first World Cup to be hosted in an African nation, it’s nice to see South Africa in the tournament. However, given the high-level of competition this tournament possesses, each team (including the host nation) should have to earn their spot on the field.
South Africa won’t make it out of Group A or even win a game in this tournament. This team lacks skill and the added pressure of being a host is a recipe for disaster.
Mexico is ranked 17th and the difference between these two teams was very clear today. South Africa could barely control the ball and had virtually no shots on goal in the first half. They had some moments of brilliance in the second half but still struggled to maintain the ball and work as a team. Playing to a 1-1 draw is an accomplishment but still not a victory.
It doesn’t get any easier for the host country who takes on Uruguay next, a team that has won the tournament twice and ranks 16th. Enjoy watching this team while you can because they won’t be in the tournament much longer.
Day One Results
Mexico 1 South Africa 1