This country has never looked so patriotic, fluorescent with all the colours of the second most recognisable flag in world only outdone by the USA flag. Whether upside down or not well I say the idea behind is what matters the most. On car mirrors, houses, and even making it to wedding decorations and a plethora of songs about it, the flag has never had so much exposure or even come under the spotlight. With so many hurdles surmounted and even critics such as Franz Backenbauer coming to the party it is no wonder the country is percolating with elation and enthusiasm to bring a World Cup to the rest of the world, a different experience to anything seen before. It was Steve Biko who said Africa would contribute to the world a more human face as much as industrialism is brought by the western world. We hope for a congruence to this statement. This tournament which we host on behalf of the rest of the continent has consequences beyond just our enclave it permeates to perceptions about future hosting of the World Cup and slightly altering stereotypes about the continent. After hoax terrorist threats & the earlier incident in Angola where the Togolese team bus was shot at en route to their African Nations Cup bass camp, SAFA and the rest of the South African citizens would love a tranquil tournament and that the country won’t be imbued in any type of belligerence.
The fate of the World Cup has reached a point of rubicon, the various teams have arrived and after last week’s promulgations about the various 23-man squads and no ash-cloud threats we can be certain that the teams will soon all be here. We can be sure of a capacity crowd at Soccer City with the majority of the crowd trying to galvanise Bafana to victory blowing their vuvuzelas at crescendo volumes on the opening day of the tournament .
The talking point in the country in the past week has been the snubbing of Benni Mccarthy who didn’t make the World Cup squad. Frankly though the bantering of Mccarthy stopped being funny when he didn’t make the team. The connotations to his weight have passed their sell-by date, somehow they would have still been hilarious if he had made the cut. Other prominent players who have been overlooked include Bryce Moon and Rowan Fenarndez but the show must go on.
Bringing more fervour to the World Cup unifying spirit and Bafana’s cause are the recent rugby semi-finals and final held in the township that were very successful. The unity of the white people and black people is reminiscent of early days of democracy and the Madiba Magic epoch.
Palpable passion is at fever pitch and it could just be the twelfth man as it has done in the past to help every host nation reach the knockout stages in all previous installments. Coupled with this history and Bafana circumventing Denmark on Saturday plus their long run without a loss since Carlos Parreira came back adds hope to the team’s endeavours. A once lack of promise wielding side with numerous passengers on the line-up, a team who couldn’t shoot outside the box have improved their game and have galvanised a nuance of optimism even to a pessimist such as myself. I still don’t think Bafana can reach the second round though but it would be surreal if they did.
Plaudits have come in numbers for the boys lately and hopefully this extends beyond July 11th and more hype is created so as to ameliorate the game of soccer in every level in this country including the PSL. The hope of many fans hinges on a fairytale Bafana Bafana progress which would ensure this transition.
The celebrations in the country are completely crazy and an instance of excitement was exhibited in Parliament a few days back when a Memebr of Parliament went against Max Sisulu’s orders of no blowing of vuvuzelas in Parliament. A certain MP reiterated that day how the rugby events in Soweto had done for race relations what politicians can only hope they can do, clearly highlighting how much gravity sport has as a unifying entity in a country.
On a less celebratory note though the World Cup’s depletion of prominent players perpetuates with more players being plagued by injuries and the newcomers to this list include Ghana’s quintessential Michael Essien, Nani, John Obi Mickel, Rio Ferdinand & Lassana Diarra. A cloud of doubt hung over Drogba for a while but he could be playing on Tuesday when they come head to head with Portugal.