Friday 11th June 2010 (Andy’s blog)
Well we thought this would be a big day for South Africa and we weren’t to be let down. The World Cup opened in Soccer City, Soweto to scenes of euphoria, the like I have never ever experienced at any World Cup. Our friends Dom, Nat and Pilks were lucky enough to have tickets to the match, but Kirsty and I had to watch it in a local bar, aptly called Capello’s in Lonehill Johannesburg. We were joined by Jules (Julia) who we know, a committed Bafana Bafana fan and very knowledgeable about the game. We settled in a couple of hours before the kIck off, with some beers and a plate of ribs and wings. Everyone in the bar was decked out in yellow and green and hyped up for the game.
The game itself started nervously, with South Africa looking like they had completely frozen. The Mexicans had an impressive West Ham, Spurs and Arsenal front line and could have has a couple before SA actually woke up, but thanks to the excellent Itumeleng Khune who kept Franco out there was no damage. Throughout the game the bar was literally on fire (there were open fire features throughout, which looked great, but made for the temperature inside being at times unbearable) and the Vuvuzelas were on Defcon 5 the whole way. A nervous first half came to an end and instead of some half time punditry from messrs Barnes and some other bloke, the music went on and the whole place danced to a different full on club vibe. Think Ibiza in the afternoon sun, swimming pool style. Everyone was drinking and dancing and the place was absolutely burnin’.
So to the second half. Bafana Bafana started stronger and with more purpose. Surely the nerves had fallen away and Carlos Alberto Parreira had told his braves to go out and play. And play the did, they played like lions and were the better side. One of the moves of this World Cup climaxed with a top class goal from Stephen Tshabalala – surely one that will feature in the top 5 goals to be seen in this tournament. Needless to say the bar erupted, noise, jubilation and sheer emotion outpouring. Amazing stuff. I had tears in my eyes and found myself grabbing and hugging anyone. This is football.
After that it felt like another England World Cup match or worse still West Ham everyweek! The tension was unbelievable Kirsty and I both suffering heart palpitations and back pain! Sadly and somewhat inevitable, the shaky South African defence let the Mexicans in and they got their equaliser. Unlike in England where everyone would be swearing and angry, this bar went quiet for a nano second, supporters deflated by the goal temporarily, before the noise and dancing to start up again. What a lovely spirit and very refreshing to see the smiling faces smiling for precisely 89mins and 50 seconds out of the 90!
At the end of the match the bar became a club and dancing was compulsory, which is never a problem for me. A wonderful experience, nerve wracking all the way. We walked back with Jules to our digs in the pitch black to the sound of Vuvuzelas and car horns sounding. A brilliant day all round. Early to bed, for tomorrow we play our opening game in Rustenberg. I am sure it will be as nerve wracking as usual. In precisely 12 hours we will find out.
This is what we have come for, come on England.