Welcome to J-Burg, South Africa! The 2009 Confederations Cup opens this morning at Ellis Park with the hosts taking on Iraq. If you haven't yet done so, check out our profiles of South Africa and Iraq before we dive in.
Before we begin, 2 notes: (a) considering the squads, much of this liveblog will be taken up by poor attempts to spell the names of the players correctly; and (b) I am officially lodging a protest against both squads for poor numbering schemes on their jerseys.
South Africa gaffer
Juelz Joel Santana will start:
GK: Khune (16)
DEF: Gaxa (2); Masilela (3); Mokoena (4 - Captain); Booth (14)
MID: Mhlongo (5); Sibaya (6); Modise (12); Dikgacoi (13)
ST: Parker (17); Fanteni (18)
So, Bafana Bafana run out a straight 4-4-2 formation. Obviously the big surprise here is that Everton's Pienaar starts the match on the bench.
Iraq's gaffer, the ageless Bora Milutinovic, will start:
GK: Mohammed (12)
DEF: Mohammed Ali (2 - insert boxing joke here); Basem (3); Fareed (4); Salam (14); Ali Hussein (15 - relax, it's a common last name)
MID: Nashat (5); Karrar (13); Mahdi (18)
ST: Imad (7); Younus (10 - Captain)
The multi-ethnic Iraqi squad (comprised of Shia, Sunni, and Kurds) run out a 5-3-2 formation, so Bora appears to be starting off defensively.
Now, buckle up because this thing is about to kick.
00:00 - Iraq is apparently running out the youngest and the shortest squad of the Confed Cup. Right up Bora's alley!
00:00 - (taps glass) Anyone out there?
00:00 - According to FIFA.com, the players are out on the pitch. Mere moments away from the opener - feel the excitement!
00:00 - How many people who just saw that commercial have no idea who Messi or Zizou are?
00:00 - Re: Bafana Bafana tactics, apparently Pienaar has a bit of a nick so he is on the bench, but hoping to get some significant minutes. I'm assuming that Mokoena is starting in back in order to bolster a shaky defense. Santana wants his captain to be the rock in the back, as Iraq have already proven that they can score.
00:01 - And we're off!
00:01 - Over/under on number of times we are told that Iraq is out of WC 2010 qualifying, and thus are hanging their hopes on a Confed Cup title: 7. I'm taking the over.
00:01 - Dammit! FIFA lied to me about how Younis was spelled!
00:30 - First attempt at Route 1 from Mhlongo wins S. Africa a deep throw that eventually results in a foul and the first YC of the match to Fanteni.
02:30 - After a 2 minute injury delay while Karrar tried to determine if he could continue, we're off again.
03:00 - Every time Booth (SA) touches the ball the crowd reacts, but I can't tell if they are booing (he is white, after all) or saying "BOOOOOOOOOOOOTH" - aaaaaaaaaand the commentators just confirmed that it's his name being said. Thank goodness for progress!
04:45 - The ball has been mostly in the S. African third of the pitch, but with no real threats from Iraq. Some nice passing goes out for a goal kick and Younis looks around in frustration.
06:30 - Bafana Bafana with some better passing now, and a long ball from Booth into the box is collected by Mohammed.
08:00 - First corner of the match goes to Iraq. The midget squad sets up in the box but the ball is easily headed out for a throw. The result is rather weak, but earns another corner for Iraq. That ball is a little more dangerous is it makes its way through the box, but it is cleared for yet another throw. S. Africa are definitely on the back foot.
10:00 - Blatant dive by Imad, and the ball eventually gets to Khune. His long kick comes out to midfield, where it is collected by Parker for S. Africa's first shot on goal, but it is easily held by Muhammed.
12:00 - A long ball over the top from Iraq causes some confusion between Booth and Masilela, resulting in a throw for Iraq. The ball is sent skyward and Younis fouls Mohammed as both attempt to get up for the ball. The GK sends out what is essentially a goal-kick to midfield, where Modise is called for a foul.
13:30 - S. Africa push forward well, and Sibaya receives the ball in space to lash a shot just wide of the post. There was apparently a deflection, since they are awarded a corner, but the chance is wasted.
15:35 - Some empty seats in the first row. Probably some S. Africa fat-cats who are too busy to make the match, but it still doesn't look good for an opener of a tournament that your country is hosting and in which your national team is playing.
17:30 - More Route 1 footy from S. Africa. It results in a throw, but their best chance on goal so far has come from moving the ball through the midfield. A cross to the back post is sent back in by Gaxa (although it appeared to cross the end-line). They sort it out and Mohammed takes his goal-kick.
19:45 - Some nice passing from S. Africa, but they are eventually dispossessed after failing to get off a shot. They need to find the middle ground between Route 1 footy and too much passing/dribbling.
22:15 - Terrible turnover on defense but S. Africa is able to escape and continue moving forward. A throw comes in to Masilela, but he is stopped. Iraq thought they had a claim for a foul as Booth came in for the tackle to regain possession, but they are allowed to play on.
24:00 - S. Africa are beginning to look sloppy on defense, which will absolutely bite them in the ass if it continues.
26:00 - A free-kick for Iraq is put into orbit by Nashat.
27:00 - Building through the midfield results in a couple of switched fields for S. Africa with an eventual wayward cross going out for a goal-kick.
28:30 - The tone was set early by the tackle and YC, but this match has actually become much more physical over the past 10 minutes and the referee seems content to let them play.
30:00 - Another bad pass out of the midfield for S. Africa results in a throw for Iraq. Mohammed Ali plays the ball into the box, but Imad's first touch lets him down. Iraq retains possession, and Nashat is eventually fouled. The free-kick is into the wall and cleared by Sibaya.
34:00 - Some nice dribbling from Iraq, but Fateni steals the ball off Mahdi before being dispossessed himself. The ball comes back into Fanteni, and Iraq is unable to clear.
36:00 - Parker is able to get off a shot, but it goes just wide. It appeared that Mohammed would have had it covered.
38:00 - Another injury stoppage, as Iraq GK Mohammed appears to have rolled his ankle. He bravely shakes it off and tells the referee that he is able to continue.
41:00 - Mokoena makes an absolute mess of a clearance, but is bailed out by Booth (sign him up, 'Pool!)
41:45 - A free-kick from near the touchline by Modise is cleared by Iraq, but there is no counter-attack to speak of.
42:30 - Tommy Smyth notices that there is a player named Mohammed Ali. The world spins off its axis.
43:00 - A long ball over the top to Imad sends him too far into the corner, and he is dispossessed on his turn.
45:00 + 00:30 - Only 2 minutes of stoppage time, which seems at least 1 minute short. But I'm not the 4th official.
45:00 + 01:10 - Free-kick for S. Africa for at midfield, followed shortly by one for Iraq in almost the same spot for the last action of the half.
Your half-time statistics: (1) shots on goal - S. Africa 3, Iraq 3; (2) offsides - S. Africa 1, Iraq 0; (3) fouls - S. Africa 6, Iraq 5; and (4) corners - S. Africa 2, Iraq 2.
A little montage of USMNT players (alright, just Bocanegra and Timmy Howard) discussing why the Confed Cup is important. They appeared less than enthusiastic. This is followed by the ginger Lalas' ode to Landycakes, which makes me physically ill.
45:00 - And we have the 2nd half kick. S. Africa would probably be content with a draw here, but I think they need a win if they are going to advance.
45:40 - Ali Hussein takes down Gaxa just outside the box. The free-kick swings in, is cleared, and comes back in easily for Mohammed.
48:00 - S. Africa getting deeper into the box (that's what she said), and Parker gets off another shot, but Mohammed had the angle well-covered.
49:30 - Iraq coming down the right side and Booth fends off Younis with his elbow and gets away with it for a goal-kick.
50:45 - A nice through-ball almost releases Modise on goal, but a last-second clearance is made. The throw from Gaxa is wasted.
51:30 - I am endlessly amused by Tommy Smyth discussing these players as if he had intimate knowledge of their skills. Yes, Tommy, I'm sure you watch the Orlando Pirates every week.
52:30 - A long ball over the top to Younis is ushered out by Booth, but Iraq is awarded a corner. The resulting ball is too far to the back post and goes out for a throw.
54:00 - Karrar with a wasted shot from 35 yards out that trickles in to Khune.
57:10 - Some nice work by Sibaya and Modise is wasted as the final touch lets them down and Iraq are able to clear.
59:30 - Some extended passing results in a handball from Basem. The ensuing free-kick from Modise is well-driven, but there is a S. Africa foul in the scramble.
62:00 - A long cross to Imad is wasted, as he is unable to control the ball and it goes out for a throw.
64:00 - Crowd shot of Raymond Domenech, and I projectile vomit.
65:00 - Free-kick for S. Africa bounces around in the air before a clearance, but once again there is nothing resembling a counter-attack.
66:00 - Ali Hussein is forced to play the ball out for a corner, and Modise sends it in for an easy clearance. The set pieces in this match have been rather poor.
67:45 - Salam is forced to play the ball out, and the throw from Gaca comes to Parker, who lays it off for Modise. Unfortunately, the shot skies over the bar.
71:00 - A free-kick for S. Africa results in some shambolic defending followed by a smidgen of offside. Shenanigans from both sides, making this look like a U-14 match.
72:00 - Parker places excellent pressure on Mohammed Ali, and the latter is forced to play it out for a corner. The resulting ball comes in to Fanteni, who gets off an excellent header that just rises over the bar.
73:00 - YC to Nashat for attempting to play the ball while on the ground. This is followed by an Iraqi substitution of Hawar for Karrar.
74:00 - Modise is clipped at the top of the box and this looks dangerous. The free-kick from Modise is straight into the wall, and Mahdi is fouled on the clearance. Iraq make another substitution - Imad off, Zahra on.
76:00 - Substitute Hawar immediately provides some pace, putting pressure on Gaxa. S. Africa makes a sub - Fanteni off, Mashego on.
77:50 - Iraq corner sent in by Nashat is way too far to the back post. Another poor set piece.
78:00 - Best chance of the match so far, as substitute Mashego gets loose but he is stoned by Mohammed. His last touch let him down, as he had the opportunity to chip/dribble the GK.
79:30 - Gaxa streaks down the right side from defense and plays it to Parker in the middle. A beautiful turn and decent pace on the shot, but it goes straight into Mohammed's arms.
80:00 - YC to Sibaya (first name - Macbeth) for an unknown foul.
83:00 - More pressure from Iraq as Alaa sends the ball into the middle. It is pushed out for a throw, which is eventually cleared.
83:30 - Reverse OG! A cross is headed into the net by Gaxa, but it hits Parker and stays out!
84:40 - S. Africa substitution - Pienaar on, Parker off.
87:10 - Younis has Masilela climb his back for an Iraqi free-kick. They make their final substitution, as Mahdi is off for Salih. The free-kick is driven too low and S. Africa break, but Mohammed Ali cleans up the mess.
89:00 - Younis goes down in a heap after Booth dispossesses him from behind, but the ref allows play to continue. S. Africa eventually play the ball out for an Iraq goal-kick.
90:00 + 01:00 - Iraq awarded a free-kick as once again Booth comes through Younis. The ball is played into the corner by Nashat, and eventually Masilela fouls Younis for another free-kick. That ball is played short by Hawar to Nashat, and the Iraqis are content to run it to the corner instead of putting it on goal.
90:00 + 03:00 - The final action of the match is a free-kick taken by Pienaar that is easily cleared.
FINAL - South Africa 0-0 Iraq. MotM for me was Modesi, who had some real pace and was consistent on both sides of the pitch.
Join us again in a few hours when Spectator holds down the fort for the 2nd match of the day.