JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) - Arsenal forward Carlos Vela insisted his Mexico side are still potential knock-out phase contenders, despite being held to a 1-1 draw by South Africa in Friday's World Cup opener.
"The first game is important to start strong in the tournament, but I still think this team is a very good team although we can't win every game now," said the 21-year-old winger.
The Mexicans were left bitterly disappointed after failing to convert their first-half domination into goals as South Africa grew in confidence in front of 84,490 supporters at a packed Soccer City stadium in the Group A clash.
The hosts took the lead when midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala drilled home a shot after a superb pass from playmaker Steven Pienaar on 55 minutes.
Only a 79th-minute equaliser by Mexico's Rafael Marquez denied the Bafana Bafana the dream start to their World Cup campaign, but South Africa nearly poached a win in added time when striker Katlego Mphela hit the post.
"We were exhausted at the end because we had to chase really hard to get the equaliser," said Mexican defender Ricardo Osorio.
"That left us open to counter-attacks and we nearly conceded again.
"It's not the result we were expecting but there are still two games left and our hopes are still intact."
His colleague in defence, Carlos Salcido, admitted the Mexicans allowed the South Africans to recover their composure after the hosts' nervous start.
"It was a fair result and the two halves were very different," he said.
"We were the better side in the first and created chances, but in the second they were more organised and made life hard for us.
"The World Cup has only just begun and there's still everything to play for."
Hector Moreno, an unused substitute, said his side should be happy to have taken a point from their first game.
"At the end it's one point gained because we could get the three but we lost the chances in the first half and then look what happened," he said.
"But I think the team is doing well and with two games left I think we're going to win both."
He insisted his side was not intimidated by the atmosphere. "It was a party for the people in South Africa, for all the continent."
Mexico face 1998 winners France in their next match on Thursday, while South Africa take on Uruguay on Wednesday.
|Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira|
for L. Thwala 46'
for S. Pienaar 83'
|MLS Review: Wright-Phillips double inspires Red Bulls to New York derby rout|
|James seeks more game time at Madrid|
|Rooney: I want to be a manager|
|Mignolet welcomes Karius challenge in Liverpool number one battle|
|Batshuayi buoyed by winning vibes at Chelsea|
|Moyes and Sunderland players diverted after plane fault|
|´Loved´ Varane targets long Madrid stay|
|Kostic set for Hamburg medical|
|Leicester crying over Kante sale - Ranieri|
|Schurrle the perfect Mkhitaryan replacement - Tuchel|
|West Ham face anxious wait on Cresswell injury|
|Mourinho will accept criticism from United legends|
|Bertolacci desperate for fresh start after underwhelming first season at Milan|
|Hoops hand Toure one-year deal|
|Origi ready to fight for Liverpool spot|
|Emery wants PSG stay for ´fantastic´ Matuidi|
|No Barcelona offer for Vietto - Cerezo|
|Burnley apologise for racist abuse from supporter|
|Guardiola will not rush Kompany comeback|
|Of course I´ll shake Guardiola´s hand, snaps riled Mourinho|
|Watzke: No more signings for Dortmund|
|Roma expect Manolas to snub Premier League move|
|Adriano set to leave Barcelona for Besiktas|
|Manchester United in worst possible situation - Mourinho|
|Sporting would have to sell stadium to afford Van Persie - Jesus|
|Jonas´ agent confirms Barcelona approach|
|No problem with Mourinho, insists Guardiola ahead of derby in China|
|Toronto´s hat-trick hero Giovinco: I´m back|
|Drogba revels in ´special night´, dedicates hat-trick to family|
|MLS Review: Hat-tricks for Drogba and Giovinco as stars shine|
|Whelan backs Liverpool for top-four finish|
|Pellegrini still waiting for right offer|
|Ronaldo deserves to win Ballon d´Or - Vazquez|
|Phelan wants Hull job|
|Alaba saddened by Gotze exit|
|Morgan: Vardy right to re-sign|
|Maradona ´hurting´ as Higuain closes on Juventus move|
|Moyes watches Sunderland win, Ibe opens account in six-goal Bournemouth thriller|
|Messi cuts short holiday for Barcelona training camp|
|Ranieri still confident of keeping Mahrez|
|Toure to complete Celtic move on Sunday, says Rodgers|
|Vietto sends Simeone a reminder amid Barcelona links|
|Celtic 1 Leicester City 1 (5-6 on penalties): Mahrez magic the highlight as Ranieri´s side triumph i|
|Ribery, Alaba on target in Bayern win|
|Neymar hails Micale ahead of Olympic tilt|
|Ronaldo wants Real Madrid renewal|
|Ochoa joins Granada from Malaga|
|Heidel quashes Meyer to Liverpool as ´nonsense´|
|Scholes challenges Allardyce to change England mentality|
|Tenerife star Crosas investigated for killing endangered shark|
|De Gea: Manchester United can win title under Mourinho|
|Marseille replace Batshuayi with brother Leya Iseka|
|Cristiano Ronaldo: Best season of my career|
|Scholes: Pogba is not worth £100million|
|Gotze has not forgotten how to play football - Riedle|
|Delph learning more than ever under Guardiola|
|Jovetic ´not worried´ about Juventus|
|Allardyce wants Euro 2016 woes to fire his England|
|Giggs not in a rush to take manager´s job|
|Lopetegui: If not for Spain I would be Wolves boss|
|Shaw one of best left-backs in world - Herrera|
|Injured Sanchez to miss Arsenal tour|
|Melbourne Victory 1 Juventus 1 (Melbourne win 4-3 on pens): Thomas inspires Victory as Juve pay pena|
|Janssen: Ajax and PSV were never going to pay as much as Tottenham|
|Bayern to make Munich shooting tributes|
|Wenger wishes luck to old foe Allardyce|
|United defender Varela joins Frankfurt on loan|
|Sunderland appoint Moyes as Allardyce replacement|
|Javi Martinez devastated by Munich shootings|
|Rooney: I´m desperate to play for Mourinho, just like under Ferguson|
|Godin: Champions League the dream, but LaLiga the focus|
|Klopp hails Wijnaldum´s ´football smartness´|
|Klavan ready to fight for starting spot after completing ´dream´ Liverpool move|
|Real Salt Lake 1 San Jose Earthquakes 1: Mulholland salvages point|
|Madeira airport to be named after Cristiano Ronaldo|
|Villar, Ceferin and Van Praag announce UEFA presidential bid|
|Witsel has offers from England and Italy|
|Tuchel will bring out Gotze´s best - Watzke|
|Swansea confirm interest in Liverpool´s Allen|
|Arsenal´s Coquelin: LeBron v Curry is like Messi v Ronaldo|
|Rooney backs Allardyce appointment|
|Bayern and Ancelotti respond to Munich attacks|
|West Brom friendly cancelled over violence concerns|