South Africans vow to remain good hosts

2010-06-23 12:20

Despite the disappointment of being eliminated in the first round,

South Africans were walking tall today after a valiant victory over the French

and rooting for Ghana to keep the continent’s home World Cup hopes alive.

Ghana are the only African side to have won a game so far and the

only one of the “six pack” of teams given a chance of saving the continent’s

blushes by making it through to the knock-out stages.

South Africa, Cameroon and Nigeria are already out of the picture,

Algeria and Ivory Coast are struggling with one point apiece.

“I’m now going to support Ghana,” said Selina Sebopa, a 59-year-old

grandmother of three who cleans the offices of several media houses in Johannesburg.

And if Ghana is knocked out?

“Then I’ll go for Brazil,” she said, opting for a team that

occupies a special place in the heart of South Africans for their flair and

their fans’ joie de vivre.

World Cup local organising committee chief executive Danny Jordaan

reminded the country last night: “This is still South Africa’s World Cup. We are

not going home, the World Cup is happening in our home.

“I remain confident that South Africans will continue to be

fantastic hosts for the next two and a half weeks and make the most of this

incredible time in our country’s history, which has already seen us achieve so

much,” Jordaan added.

If attendance at game is anything to go by, South Africans are

still coming to the party. For six days before the France game, they knew they

needed nothing short of a miracle to advance to the next round, following their

disastrous 3-0 defeat by Uruguay.

And yet, over 84 000 people packed into Soccer City on Sunday to

see Brazil beat Ivory Coast 3-1, most of them South Africans.

Average attendance at this World Cup after 36 matches is running at

48 446, the third-highest since 1982, after the 1994 United States and 2006

Germany editions.

By contrast, attendance at fanparks and public viewing areas has

slowed to a trickle since the opening game on June 11 between South Africa and

Mexico, bar for South Africa games.

Yesterday evening, under 100 people stood under a giant screen in

central Johannesburg’s capacious Mary Fitzgerald Square as Nigeria fought South

Korea in vain for a place in the round of 16. The surrounding bars were also


Some blame the winter weather but it is the fear of crime that has

really squeezed the life out of South Africa’s streets after dark.

And yet the tsotsis that often terrorise the population appear to

be also hugging the hearth during the World Cup.

From Johannesburg to Durban and Cape Town, foreign fans have

marvelled at how safe they have felt.

England fan John said in Cape Town: “People were a bit worried

before but security seems fine. We’ve had no problems.”

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