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Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Tuesday, 8 June 2010 15:39 UK

World Cup 2010: South Africa players admit nerves

South Africa winger Siphiwe Tshabalala
Tshabalala is expected to start Friday's World Cup opener against Mexico

South Africa players have admitted a growing nervous anticipation as the opening match of the World Cup against Mexico approaches on Friday.

"As it gets nearer to kick off, the nerves are beginning," said Bafana Bafana striker Bernard Parker.

"All we have in mind is not to disappoint [anyone]."

"There are times now when you get really nervous but having the nation behind us means a lot to the squad," added winger Siphiwe Tshabalala.

South Africa have the hopes of a nation behind them after a recent run of going unbeaten in 12 matches.

"We are all aware of the importance of winning the first game," stated goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.

"We have the advantage of home support and with the whole nation behind us there is a real energy.

All the players are confident of making it to the knockout stage.

South Africa defender Matthew Booth

"But there is a little bit of nerves while we wait."

The streets of Johannesburg are awash with an outpouring of nationalist sentiment which South African President Jacob Zuma on Monday described as an unprecedented event uniting the country's different racial groups.

He predicted its effect would be felt for many years to come.

Defender Matthew Booth said the euphoria had the potential to help the team go much further in the World Cup than originally predicted or could be expected given their 83rd ranking.

"We are not looking much further than the Mexico match but once, not if, we beat them, we know the momentum will push us through," said Booth.

"All the players are confident of making it to the knockout stage.

"With the euphoria that will come after that in South Africa, anything is possible."

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see also
SA beat Denmark in last warm-up
05 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Bafana keeper in battle for place
03 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Mokoena marks landmark in SA win
31 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
South Africa extend unbeaten run
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
McCarthy dropped by South Africa
01 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
South Africa climb seven places
26 May 10 |  African

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