Monday, June 28, 2010

Ghana progress as I make slow progress in the traffic

The African dream lives on in Ghana after the Black Stars beat USA 2-1 after extra time thanks to Asamoah Gyan's 93rd minute strike. Ghanaian supporters dominated the stadium as many South Africans chose to support the one remaining African team in the tournament. Wearing Bafana shirts but waving Ghanaian flags, this was the most colourful World Cup environment that I have been in so far. The stadium was buzzing after the final whistle and I was glad to see the look of disappointment on Landon Donovan's face. If he's going to mess up my World Cup plans, they're going to get knocked out of the tournament. It's karma!

 Landon Donovan equalising from the penalty spot

However, as with much of my work, the game was secondary to what was happening around it. We left Johannesburg just after 4:15pm, giving us just over four hours before kickoff. We thought that would be enough time to get to our seats seeing as Rustenburg is only 120km away. We were wrong. Getting trapped on the N4 toll road, we trundled along in the queue but, as always in this country, there were idiots who chose to zoom down in the emergency lane, which cause chaos on the way up to the England v USA game a couple of weeks back. This time round, there was a chunky Afrikaans guy in a Toyota Hilux driving slowly up this lane to prevent this from happening. We drove alongside and infuriated the impatient South African drivers but most of them gave up and fell back into line. There were one or two idiots who thought that for the sake of making up a few places in the queue they would drive into oncoming traffic and almost cause horrific accidents. It was satisfying to see them pulled over by the traffic cops! We spent the hours stuck in traffic thinking up ways to get back at these drivers; the best was buying a tray of eggs and throwing them at the windscreens but we didn't pass anywhere that sold eggs.

 Ghanaian fans celebrating during extra time

The park and ride was fine we got onto our bus easily. Problem was that the bus got stuck in traffic itself. Sat in my seat as the match clock ticked over 20 minutes. Not happy. We missed the first goal. Fortunately we saw two more and got extra time.

 The media circus makes a beeline for the Ghanaian fans after the game

If there were a few issues getting to the stadium, it was dramatically worse coming back. The game finished at about 11pm and we got to the pick up point 20 minutes later. That was the last thing that went right. There were no queues, just piles of people pushing and shoving to make up a couple of yards of ground. As time went by, people got more irritated and annoyed. The Englishmen in front of me were complaining that this was the side of the World Cup that the TV cameras never picked up on.

"This system is s**t!", one of them eloquently stated. And it was. Rustenburg park and ride was efficient during the 2009 Confederations Cup but something has gone wrong since.
One of the Americans behind me decided to "blame it on all the Canadians who are here. All two of them!" Some tried to joke but those Englishmen got increasingly grumpy. Some aspect of this World Cup have been incredible, but this was a farce. They should have had this all ironed out last year. Clearly not.

Eventually (sometime past 1am) we made it onto the bus. If that was bad, the traffic on the highway stumbled along. I got home at 5am, six hours after the game had finished.

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