World Cup off to colourful start

12 June 2010

More than 84 000 people witnessed the dawn of a new chapter in South Africa’s history when the 2010 Fifa World Cup kicked off in true African style at Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium on Friday.

From as early as 09h00, excited Mexican and South African football supporters started making their way to the “football calabash” just outside Soweto in anticipation of what was to come.

Despite the early morning cold, fans were in a festive mood as the Mexican “Matraca” (a wooden accessory that makes noise when rotated) met the South African vuvuzela in a test of noise.

It wasn’t long, however, before these supporters got to see Africa’s most magnificent stadium when gates opened at 10h30.

And following a magnificent opening ceremony which showcased the music and culture of Africa, fans were treated to an exciting opening encounter which ended 1-1 at full time.

The atmosphere in the stadium matched that which has been seen on the streets of South African cities in the build-up to 11 June.

Speaking Danny Jordaan, CEO of the Local Organising Committee, thanked South Africans and visitors to the country for their unbelievable support after the match.

“We couldn’t have asked for more,” Jordaan said. “A capacity stadium, a host nation with a will to win, an incredible atmosphere and spectacular football. It is just fantastic that the first goal of Africa’s first World Cup went to South Africa, we really couldn’t have written a better script.”

Before the first game of the tournament got going, South African president Jacob Zuma addressed the 84 490 strong crowd, conveying a message from former president Nelson Mandela, who tragically lost his great-granddaughter in a car accident on Thursday night.

“Let me convey a message from Madiba, our icon, who wanted to come and greet you before the start of the match, but unfortunately his family was hit by a tragedy. He said: ‘The game must start, you must enjoy the game.’

“We as a country, we are humbled by this opportunity,” Zuma said. “Africa is indeed happy. This is the African World Cup. The time for Africa has come, it has arrived, Ke Nako.”

Zuma then officially opened the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Jordaan was not the only one who was impressed with the atmosphere inside Soccer City.

Julio Mendez, who hails from Mexico City, said he was impressed by the number of Bafana Bafana supporters who had come out to support their team. “The stadium is very impressive and the atmosphere is perfect; it’s more yellow than we expected it to be!”

Adina Neumann, also from Mexico City, said the din in Soccer City was nothing new to Mexican football supporters. “Everything is great, the people are very friendly and the game was very entertaining. The vuvuzelas are fine. You think Mexicans aren’t use to the noise? We are noisier!”

Despite the draw, Bafana Bafana supporters were still happy.

Johannesburg resident Nlandie Nel said: “It was an excellent day. The stadium is superb, and Bafana’s performance was very impessive.”

Source: 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Organising Committee