Blatter happy with South Africa's new-found form

POLOKWANE, South Africa (Reuters) - South Africa's recent form has improved the chances of the host nation advancing to the second round of the World Cup, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said on Saturday.

Bafana Bafana, ranked 83rd in the world, have been drawn in a tough Group A against Mexico, Uruguay and former champions France, raising concerns they may be the first hosts to bow out of soccer's showpiece tournament in the first round.

"They are on the right way, the right way to go to the next round," Blatter said at the official opening of the 45,000 seat Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane that will host four matches in the month-long World Cup starting on June 11.

South Africa are unbeaten in 10 matches since Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira returned as coach.

They face Guatemala in Polokwane, about 350 km north of Johannesburg, in a penultimate warm-up game on Monday after beating 34th ranked Colombia 2-1 on Thursday.

Blatter said he was excited to see the country getting behind the national team.

"It is good preparation to be always on the winning side ... I think the ambience (atmosphere) in South Africa now for Bafana Bafana is a very high one and they will have a 12th player."

Football fever is building in South Africa and the team is attracting sell-out crowds -- a marked change from last year when they were beaten nine games in a row.

The din from vuvuzelas, a plastic trumpet that is a feature of local matches, is also said to inspire the players and deafen the opposition.

(Reporting by Gordon Bell. Editing by Alison Wildey)