Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My ears are still ringing...

On Monday night, Bafana Bafana managed a credible 1-1 draw against Bulgaria at Orlando Stadium, Soweto. The same old story yet again prevailed; plenty of possession but generally failing to penetrate the opposition's defence. At one level, a draw against a team 44 places above them in the world rankings is commendable but they will be playing much better teams in the World Cup. Defensive mistakes such as the one that led to Bulgaria's soft equaliser need to be eradicated but there is time for that with the forthcoming friendlies against Columbia, Guatemala and Denmark. Furthermore, the promised inclusion of SA's foreign-based players in the lineup against Columbia should give Bafana a much-needed boost; Everton's Steven Pienaar should feature at some point in the match - an exciting prospect for any Bafana fan.

Unfortunately, traffic chaos yet again marred the experience. Leaving the northern suburbs of Joburg at 5:15pm, I wasn't in the stadium until 7:30pm, a good hour before kick off but that journey should have taken far less time than it did. Having said that, it was a definite improvement on Saturday afternoon at Soccer City (although there were a lot less people this time around). 

Inside Orlando Stadium
Once inside, the atmosphere was buzzing. Say what you want about vuvuzelas but when thousands of them are playing in time in a virtually packed stadium, the effect is impressive. On top of periodic Mexican waves, 40,000 fans jumping up and down in unison made the stadium shake! Mexico, France and Uruguay will be forgiven for feeling intimidated when they play Bafana. Flags, robes, masks, makarapas and even one fan eating a raw cabbage throughout the match makes a Bafana matchday a crazy, vibrant experience. Hearing Shosholoza resonate around the stadium was similarly electrifying. Shosholoza is a song traditionally sung by black migrant labourers but now gets sung at many sporting fixtures.

Shosholoza, shosholoza (Moving fast, moving strong)
Ku lezontaba (Through those mountains)
Stimela sphuma eSouth Africa (Train from South Africa)
Wenu yabaleka (You are leaving)
Wenu yabaleka (You are leaving)
Ku lezontaba (Through those mountains)
Stimela siphum' eSouth Africa (Train from South Africa)

Meet Thulani Ngcobo (above). He's arguably the luckiest man on the planet at the moment, winning tickets to 38 (that's THIRTY EIGHT!!) World Cup matches after winning a competition sponsored by mobile phone network MTN. He's going to attempt to break the record for most World Cup matches attended in one tournament so there'll be a lot of flying. Very, very jealous.

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