On Friday night I was lucky enough (thanks to my brother) to attend the France vs Uruguay World Cup match at the new Cape Town stadium. What a beautiful stadium it is too. The vuvuzelas were LOUD and quite annoying but the atmosphere was good and it was an amazing experience.
Unfortunately there were no goals in the match but I saw enough of Diego Forlan (the main Uruguayan striker) to fear for South Africa’s chances on Weds night. And the French were classy as always and very assured on the ball. Bafana Bafana will have to play out of their skins I fear to progress to the next round.
People were dressed in their national shirts and flags and my brother had a miner’s helmet cut out into football-fan-like shapes. It was a bit like being at a rock concert without the music. In place of the music we had the angry buzzing of a swarm of vuvuzelas but were armed with earplugs and so our hearing probably survived unscathed. Journalists have been having fun with South Africa’s latest cultural weapon, one wag changing the slogan of the national broadcaster from “Feel it! It’s here” to “Hear it! It’s deafening.” I see the Dutch also have their own version called the “HoorNichtsMeer“. As someone who is easily startled by loud noises, I find the vuvuzela a bit of a trial but it also adds to the general sense of excitement surrounding these games.
The French fan in the middle to the left here came prepared with industry-strength ear protection and he also added a blue beret and a straggly beard. His compatriot two seats down has a blue, white and red Mohawk. I had to smile at the couple dressed in the Irish flag who came to register their disapproval at France’s progress to the finals based on Thierry Henry’s outrageous double hand-ball.
It’s hard to believe that this will all be over in just under four weeks. I hope for the Socceroos’ sake that the rest of their World Cup is better than last night’s game. Germany were scarily efficient in disposing of them 4-0. Spain are still the favourites to win it but you can’t rule out Brazil. Should be interesting to see how it develops.
On the book front I’ve been reading Philip Pullman and, well, Philip Pullman. I loved Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife but will have to wait a while to get hold of the third in the series, The Amber Spyglass. I’ll think of something profound to say about those two while I enjoy the rest of the soccer.
For now though, it’s great to be a South African and to forget about our national problems for a while. On July 12th we’ll start to worry about corruption and crime and poor service-delivery. For now, it’s about uniting behind the boys in Yellow. If only they can score another goal like Siphiwe Tshabala’s cracker on Friday.