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CT wakes up to World Cup

2010-06-11 14:02
Cape Town – Football fans from Africa to Australia and Latin America packed downtown Cape Town to the piercing din of vuvuzelas on Friday before the world's biggest sporting event kicked off in Soweto.

"Today something really great is coming from Africa, and I'm really excited to be African when people from all over the world are watching us," said Gillian Malumba, a 28-year-old Congolese immigrant with French flags painted on his cheeks.

He believed the home side could overcome Mexico 2-0 in their tense opener at Soccer City, to be shown here on big screens at the Grand Parade and Adderley Street.

"Bafana Bafana is definitely going to do it because the new coach has known how to put the players in their place."

Four hours before the opening match, the normally sleepy city's main fan area was nearly packed to its 25 000 capacity, car horns honked incessantly and yellow-clad fans thronged the streets.

Human chain

Police in riot helmets formed a human chain around part of the parade.

"We're here to watch and to drink," said local Luke Parenzee from Athlone as he planted himself before a big screen on the parade.

He promised he was 18 and predicted the South African side would score three goals.

Many foreigners on the parade were treating the opener as a warm-up match, before they head off to watch France play Uruguay in the new Cape Town Stadium later on Friday.

Irish twins Thomas and David Broderick held up Irish flags proclaiming French striker Thierry Henry "the best Gaelic footballer in the world".

Henry’s infamous handball

It was a reference to Henry's infamous handball that saw France beat Ireland in a World Cup warm-up match in November, Thomas tried to explain over the noise.

"In Gaelic football you can play with your hands, so that's why we say he's the best."

He added: "The people here are lovely. It's brilliant. We're not sick of vuvuzelas yet but maybe after three days."

Australian Graig Alt, 29, had his own yellow metre-long vuvuzela to match the shirt of his national team.

"It's really hard to blow. I need to practice."

Expectation

He feared for Australia's chances but hoped Bafana defied all expectation and kept the host nation in the tournament for weeks to come.

"We want them to keep winning because we want people to keep partying. The atmosphere is amazing."

Brazilian estate agent Patrizia Corti, 29, and her father were wearing Uruguay shirts.

"My dad's from Uruguay but I saw a tear running from under his glasses. I said 'Dad, you're crying', and he said 'It's emotional'."

"We were given such a great welcome. He wants to buy a Bafana shirt."

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