Bafana and LOC do country proud

2010-06-12 08:24

South Africa and Bafana Bafana rose to the occasion by making the

country and Africa proud by successfully staging an unforgettable historic 2010

World Cup opening match between Bafana and Mexico at the new-look multi billion

Soccer City on Friday.

The Rainbow nation danced and celebrated when Bafana ranked only

83rd – the lowest ranked country ever to host the World Cup – beat all

expectations to draw 1-1 against Mexico, the world’s 17th best side, at Soccer


The man who deserves the credit for turning around Bafana’s

fortunes is head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who has weaved his magic since

he took charge of the ailing and dispirited Bafana last November.

Parreira who won the 1994 World Cup with his native Brazil replaced

Joel Santana last November. Santana was shown the door and given a ticket back

to his home in Brazil after a string of poor results.

Six years of hard work and billions of rand spent rebuilding South

African infrastructure – soccer stadiums, roads, airports and transport systems

– culminated in the triumphant 2010 World Cup opening ceremony and the first

World Cup match in South Africa, where a record crowd of 84 490 fans waving

South African and Mexican flags from all over the world witnessed history being


All the doomsday predictions from sections of the foreign media,

especially in England and Germany, proved groundless as the 2010 Local

Organising Committee pulled it off in style.

The estimated world television audience of 700 million watched the

spectacular opening ceremony and then Bafana coming close to causing a major

upset with Katlego Mphela hitting the post in the 90th minute.

Siphiwe Tshabalala, the new rising Bafana star scored with a

scorcher in the 55th minute, with Barcelona ace Rafael Marquez netting the

equaliser 11 minutes from time.

The CEO of the 2010 LOC, Danny Jordaan, was jubilant saying that

the atmosphere was incredible and spectacular.

Jordaan, who with the LOC chairman Irvin Khoza,were the two leading

lights and the driving force in ensuring that South Africa became the first

African country to host the greatest sporting event in the world six years


Said Jordaan: “We could not have asked for more – a capacity

stadium a host nation with the will to win, an incredible atmosphere and

spectacular football.

It was just fantastic that the first goal of Africa’s

first World Cup went to South Africa, we really could not have written the

script better ourselves.”

Jordaan said that the opening match and ceremony had given him

confidence from an organisational perspective. He said: “The match was an

outstanding success on and off the field and all South Africans can be proud of

what we have done in front of the world – close to 700 million television


However, the brilliant 22-year-old Bafana keeper Itumeleng Khune,

who was the other star of the game, complained that the much feared vuvuzelas

were not loud enough.

Said Khune: “We want more support and louder vuvuzelas when we play

our next match against Uruguay in Pretoria on Wednesday. We could hardly hear

the fans who were quiet at stages during the game.”

Bafana host the two-time world champions Uruguay at Loftus Versfeld

on Wednesday at 8.30pm. Uruguay and 1998 world champions France drew dew 0-0 in

their Group A clash played at Cape Town’s Greenpoint Stadium on Friday


The only sad note was the tragic death of former President Nelson

Mandela’s great-granddaughter, Zenani Mandela, who was killed in a traffic

accident on her way home from the Fifa World Cup international concert staged at

Orlando Stadium on Thursday night.

Madiba who was the other driving force behind South Africa securing

the World Cup did not attend the game due to the tragedy.

South Africa President Jacob Zuma, in opening the World Cup before

the first game, sent his condolences and those of the nation to the bereaved

91-year-old Madiba.

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