The final whistle

2010-07-11 09:00

The uniquely South African diski dance, prancing elephants, home-grown isicathamiya and rainbow-coloured pyrotechnics in honour of the Rainbow Nation.
These are among the acts billed for tonight’s World Cup closing ceremony.

Music stars, monarchs and more than 80?000 soccer fans will squeeze into the Soccer City stands tonight as four weeks of sport culminate in what looks set to be a 30-minute extravaganza.

A brief moment of drama threw a spanner in the works of the show for some.

One of the performers told City Press that during rehearsals this week singing sensation Shakira sent hearts racing – those of her dancers, this time.

The Colombian diva made 11th-hour changes to her hit song, ­Waka ­Waka. The dancers, part of a 780-strong cast, had to learn the new moves less than two days before their big show.

The closing line-up includes a mix that is both cross-genre and inter-generational.

Appearing alongside popular “crossover” acts like Mafikizolo and Freshlyground will be music legends like Abigail Kubeka, ­Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Ihashi Elimhlophe.

Fireworks will be part of the show, which is being coordinated by renowned choreographer and dancer Somizi Mhlongo.

The fireworks display will include the colours of the rainbow – a theme which plays on South Africa’s popular international moniker.

Technical wizardry will be much in evidence when the pitch cover is turned ­into a giant video screen.

Oh, and there will be soccer too. The Netherlands will take on Spain in the much-anticipated final match to see who takes home the coveted gold trophy.

The holy grail of world football will be handed over before the match by Fabio Cannavaro, the captain of reigning champions Italy.

Aircraft carrying thousands of Dutch and Spanish fans have been jetting into OR Tambo International Airport over the past few days, turning the arrivals lounge into a sea of orange and red jerseys.

Some of the airlines, including Dutch carrier KLM, have procured special flights off their normal schedule to transport the legions of fans to the match.
The earliest touchdowns yesterday were carrying the Spaniards.

“Viva España! shouted Pablo de Dios, Carmen Sanz and Raquel Perez as they stood at the arrivals gates.

“We’ve come here to support our country winning its first World Cup ever,” De Dios said. Willem Vandersluis, just off the plane from Amsterdam, was similarly sure of his team’s chances: “We’ll win it!” he said.

The cream of European royalty will also be out in their country’s colours tonight. Queen Sofia, Crown Prince Felipe and his wife, Letizia, will all be in attendance.

No fewer than two African monarchs and 14 heads of state are also scheduled to be at the closing ceremony and final. A spokesperson for the international relations and co-operation department, Saul Molobi, would not confirm names but City Press understands Swaziland’s King Mswati III and King Letsie of ­Lesotho will be at the event.

The show is also likely to be attended by dignitaries who attended the opening ceremony at the same venue last month, among them Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, his prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, and Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph ­Kabila.

Given the profile of the guest list and the numbers of fans expected to turn out, traffic authorities have advised people to avoid the area and ­arteries around Soccer City. Only permit holders, ticket holders and those with accreditation will be allowed ­entry to the stadium.

Traffic will be directed on the roads around the stadium from 2pm. The alternative routes are the N12 and M1.

>>Grace Moaisi, Moffet Mofokeng, Tokiso Molefe and Sithembiso Mhlongo contributed to this report

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