World Cup 2010: Opening Ceremony Kicks Off Tournament in South Africa

Host country's Bafana team beats expectations in first match against Mexico.

June 11, 2010, 12:53 PM

June 11, 2010— -- The 2010 World Cup tournament kicked off with today as tens of thousands of enthusiastic fans filled South Africa's Soccer City stadium for the opening ceremony and first match.

South Africa's Bafana Bafana national team faced Mexico, beating expectations in a game that ended in a 1-to-1 tie.

Watch 'World News' tonight on your ABC station for Robin Roberts' World Cup report from South Africa.

Though the Bafana team was the lowest-ranked host country team in World Cup history, that hardly dampened the excitement of the throngs of people that packed the stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, as well as public viewing areas and parties around the country. Most were draped in the yellow jerseys of their team, along with the red, green, blue and black colors of the South African flag.

Throughout the opening ceremony and during the game, the loud, overpowering buzz of vuvuzelas filled the air in the stadium. The plastic, trumpetlike horns are a fan-favorite seen everywhere in the country. The noise was so loud that the stadium announcer at one point had to ask the crowd to ease up, with little success.

During the opening ceremony, hundreds of African dancers paraded into the stadium, wearing colorful costumes. The tribal-themed dance entertained the crowd along with American singer R. Kelley, South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, and a vibrant fireworks display.

Dignitaries were on hand for the ceremony, including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and South African anti-apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who danced in his seat along with the music.

But there was sadness over one enormous presence missing from the event: Nelson Mandela.

The 91-year-old leader had planned to attend the ceremony, but went into mourning today after the sudden death of his great-granddaughter in a car crash. Zenani Mandela, 13, was killed after leaving a World Cup concert Thursday night.

During today's opening event, South African President Jacob Zuma took a moment to honor Mandela, who played a big role in bringing the games to the country and continent for the first time.

"The spirit of Mandela is in Soccer City," Zuma said to the crowd.

South Africa Faces Mexico in First Match of World Cup Tournament

With the ceremony over, the tournament began.

The traffic getting to the stadium was so bad that many seats had actually been empty during the opening ceremony, but the stadium filled to its 90,000-plus capacity for the first match.

Mexico's national team, ranked 17 in FIFA's world rankings, had been expected to trounce South Africa's beloved Bafana, ranked 83 in the world.

Buoyed by the cheering crowd and those ever-blowing vuvuzelas, Bafana held off the Mexican team throughout the scoreless first half. Shortly into the second half, South African Siphiwe Tshabalala scored an exciting breakaway goal, sending the crowd into a wild dance and a chorus of vuvuzela blasts.

Bafana remained ahead for much of the second half, but Mexico's methodical players evened the score with only minutes left in the game, as Rafael Marquez scored his own goal.

South Africa fell short in its last-ditch attempt for a winning goal, but that hardly mattered to the crowd. With the first game of the 2010 World Cup now over, their team now has one point in the overall standings.

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ABC's Suzan Clarke, Rich McHugh and the Associated Press contributed to this report.