Carnival for La Albirroja

2010-06-07 00:00

THE Paraguayan La Albirroja (White and Red) team were welcomed to the Umgungundlovu District with an array of entertaining activities at the weekend.

The fun began on Saturday with a parade through the streets of Pietermaritzburg, organised by the KZN Arts and Culture Department, which ended at Harry Gwala Stadium.

The carnival was the finale of the “Fly the Flag” campaign that has seen the KwaZulu-Natal government mobilising citizens in the weeks leading up to the World Cup. About 800 performers took part.

The parade was met at the stadium by uMgungundlovu District Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee and Arts and Culture MEC Weziwe Thusi.

Bhamjee addressed an audience of about 2 000 and welcomed Team Paraguay to Pietermaritzburg.

“Enjoy playing on this surface — it is one of the best in the country,” Bhamjee said.

“We thank you, Team Paraguay, for adding something special to our hosting of the World Cup.”

Thusi urged the community to ensure that Paraguay are safe while staying in uMgungundlovu and to remain patriotic throughout the tournament. “Fly our flag high and sing our national anthem properly,” she said.

The audience were then treated to the sight of Bafana Bafana’s 1-0 victory over Denmark, which was televised on a big screen.

After the international friendly had ended, the Paraguayan Under- 20s took to the Harry Gwala pitch to play against an uMgungundlovu Under-20 side. The match ended in a 4-0 win for the South Americans and vuvuzelas blared throughout the encounter.

Music and dance were on offer for the rest of the evening.

Yesterday’s events kicked off with a game between a Premier’s XI and a Paraguayan Media XI, won by the Premier’s side 4-2.

This was followed by the Paraguayans’ first official Fifa training session at Harry Gwala Stadium. The fans cheered loudly for their favourite, Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz said: “Our stay here has been very nice. People are very good to us and we are hoping that we are going to enjoy the rest of our visit here.”

He said their main focus is to reach the next round. “We respect all the teams. However, our attention is to work towards qualifying for the next round and we’ll take it from there.

“We are very happy with the pitch. We were pleased at having trained here because the surface is perfect,” said Santa Cruz.

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