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Mexico Legend Recalls 2010 World Cup Opener Against Bafana

Mexico captain and Real Betis star Andres Guardado exclusively told Soccer Laduma what it was like playing against Bafana Bafana in the 2010 FIFA World Cup opener in South Africa.

Click through the gallery above to see some images from the match between Bafana and Mexico at the 2010 World Cup!

Guardado, 34, has had a long career at the highest level and aspires to push himself further to play at a fifth World Cup next year. The only other player in history to achieve that feat is his countryman and former colleague Rafael Marquez.

The winger-turned-central-midfielder's second World Cup appearance was in South Africa, where the tournament began with Mexico playing against the host nation, a match that is still fondly remembered in Mzansi, particularly for Siphiwe Tshabalala's incredible left-footed strike.

Guardado came on as a substitute for his country to play the last 35 minutes of that match and took the free-kick that resulted in Mexico equalising through Marquez, breaking South African hearts in the process.

Speaking to Soccer Laduma about that match and World Cup, the former Deportivo La Coruna and Valencia man recalled the "tremendous noise" at the FNB Stadium that day, and the intense pressure he and his teammates felt taking on the nation hosting the competition.

"Well, when you play in a World Cup, you see everything with different eyes. You try to absorb all of these experiences in your mental hard drive to try never forget those memories because I think a World Cup is the maximum achievement for any player," he said.

"And when you are playing in a World Cup and you've got to play against the host nation… well, imagine what we felt like. The eyes of the world were on us in that game, at that specific moment in time, waiting to see what would happen.

"So, to be honest, I've got some wonderful memories of that game regardless of the score. I don't think either yourself or us in Mexico were happy with the result, but the fact that we were there, inaugurating a World Cup, game one against the host nation and all of that tremendous noise in the stadium made it a really special occasion.

"And of all the World Cups that I've played in, I think it was a different World Cup to the others. And I say so because of the fans, because of the stadiums, the atmosphere, it was a bit of everything really. It was a very unusual atmosphere. We were staying in isolated hotels and we didn't see the people as much as we would have done in other World Cups.

"So, in that respect, I would have to say it was a bit of a different World Cup for me, but it was just as special and just as unforgettable as the others. You know, it's not every day that you get to play in a World Cup and I try to retain all of those memories as best as possible."

While Bafana failed to make it out of Group A in 2010, Mexico advanced to the round of 16, where they were beaten 1-0 by Diego Maradona's Argentina.

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Guardado, meanwhile, has amassed an incredible 165 appearances for his nation since his debut in 2005, making him Mexico's second-most-capped player in history.

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