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France and South Africa previously met at the 1998 FIFA World Cup; France beat South Africa 3-0. France and Uruguay previously met at the 2002 FIFA World Cup; the match ended 0-0. France and Mexico were in the same group in the first tournament in the 1930 FIFA World Cup; the two nations played the first ever World Cup match, and France won 4-1. France and Mexico had also met in 1954 but neither team qualified for the next round. This is also the second time that France, Mexico, and Uruguay have been drawn in the same group with the host nation; they were grouped with England in 1966, when England and Uruguay advanced to the next round.
South Africa became the first World Cup host team to fail to advance past the first round after finishing behind Mexico on goal difference. France, despite having made the final in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, also failed to advance after drawing one and losing two matches.
South Africa vs Mexico was the opening match of the World Cup, held on 11 June 2010. It was described as an "enthralling" and "pulsating" match. South Africa opened the scoring in the 55th minute after Siphiwe Tshabalala scored off a pass through Mexico's defence by Kagiso Dikgacoi. Mexico's captain Rafael Márquez equalised following a corner kick in the 79th minute. In the final minutes of the match, Katlego Mphela almost scored a winning goal for South Africa, but his shot bounced off the post.
France and Uruguay faced each other on 11 June 2010 at the Cape Town Stadium. Despite a red card being given to Uruguay substitute Nicolás Lodeiro in the second half, Uruguay were able to hold a "lacklustre" France to a 0–0 draw. After the match, former World Cup-winning French player Zinedine Zidane criticised the French team, and particularly coach Raymond Domenech, for a lack of teamwork. Domenech claimed after the match to be "happy with the overall performance".
Uruguay took the lead in the 24th minute, when Diego Forlán launched a shot from 30 yards out that beat goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who did not attempt to save the shot. In the second half, Luis Suárez was left through on goal, but he was brought down by Khune. Referee Massimo Busacca awarded a penalty, and showed Khune a red card. Deep into injury time, Uruguay scored their third goal when Álvaro Pereira tapped in a Suárez cross.
Mexico's 2-0 victory over France in Polokwane was overshadowed by French striker Nicolas Anelka launching a tirade of abuse towards coach Raymond Domenech during the half-time interval. Anelka was subsequently dismissed from the squad, which resulted in many squad members, including captain Patrice Evra, boycotting training in the lead-up to the final group stage match against South Africa.