15 February 2010
Decorated names that do not need a second mention hold various individual records for the Fifa World Cup. The legendary Pele holds the record for being part of a World Cup winning team: he collected three winner’s medal, in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
Diego Maradona has the most World Cup appearances as captain, with a tally of 16 matches. Cameroon’s great striker, Roger Milla, remains the oldest man to have played in a World Cup: when he turned out for his country in 1994, he was 42 years and 39 days old.
Thulani Ngcobo, who is on the terraces every time South African Premier Soccer League club Kaizer Chiefs plays, will seek to join these football luminaries in the Guiness Book of Records when Africa hosts its first Fifa World Cup in June and July.
The 29-year-old has vowed to break the individual record for watching the most matches in a single tournament after winning a competition held by Fifa partner MTN, which was looking for South Africa’s number one fan.
‘One in a lifetime opportunity’
“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, and I am very confident of succeeding in being the best fan of not only this historic World Cup but also in the world,” said Ngcobo, who will be going to 38 matches during the World Cup as the winner of the competition.
Ngcobo said he will be out to better the present world record of 20 games, and gave an insight into his calculated schedule. “I have lined up 38 games that will begin with the opening match when Bafana Bafana play Mexico and end with the final on 11 July.”
The South Africa Kaizer Chiefs supporter views the opportunity to break the world record as the second biggest development in his lifetime romance with football.
“Nothing can beat the day South Africa won the right to host this World Cup, not even this competition. It was not only a victory for my country but for the whole African continent, and I remember celebrating like there was no tomorrow when we won the 2010 bid.
“We are a poor continent, and most of us football fans would have died without attending a World Cup match. However, with it here, we can show off our love for this great game while we also get the opportunity to see the best football talents in the world showcase their skills,” said Ngcobo.
2010 benefits ‘already visible’
The Tshwane/Pretoria-based fan points out that the World Cup benefits in his country are already visible. “Our road networks and airports have undergone a major facelift. A lot of job opportunities have been created for our people.”
However, his face beams when he talks about the football facilities that have been built in preparation for the international football feast.
“We will have enough football pitches for our football matches. Nothing irritates me more than being told that a match has been postponed or shifted to make way for rugby. I specifically remember some time ago, when the Telkom Cup final was moved at the last minute from Ellis Park [in Johanneburg] to Mafikeng because the venue had been taken over by a rugby match. Those days are now gone.”
Ngcobo, who claims to watch as many as four matches per week, believes eclipsing the 20-match record would be a stroll in the park. “My sponsors have arranged two matches per day, which is really easy to achieve, given that logistics such as transport and accommodation have also been well planned and are also sponsored.”
Rewriting the history books
With that taken care of, he intends to enjoy all his matches, and has already picked his favourites.
“The opening game will obviously be very emotional for me. I cannot wait to see the spectacular opening ceremony and cheer on Bafana Bafana as they kick off the tournament against Mexico. Like me, they will also re-write the history books in that moment.
“The final will be even more special as I will also be celebrating fulfilling this challenge at the magnificent Soccer City Stadium.”
Besides, the opening game, Ngcobo highlighted the exciting prospect of watching Brazil, Italy, France, Spain and Cote d’Ivoire in action.
“A few years back, I could only dream of seeing players like Lionel Messi, Kaka, Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Ronaldo kick a soccer ball.”