Jubilant fans beg for rooms

2010-06-18 08:01
Polokwane - Soccer fans bartered and begged for rooms in an icy cold Polokwane on Thursday night as Mexicans eager to celebrate their team's 2-0 victory over France scouted the town for bars.

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"We want to celebrate, where can we get a drink," one man with a green Mexican wrestling mask shouted to a passing policeman.

Mexico scored two goals, one of them a penalty, in the second half to all but ruin Bafana's chances of qualifying for round two of the world cup.

Cold

The spirited largely Mexicans crowd, many wearing sombreros or masks sang "Ole, Ole" each time their team neared the French goals at the packed out Peter Mokaba Stadium.

The Mexicans jeered and shook their hands when the French went on the attack.

After the game, out of towners desperate to escape the bitter cold roamed Polokwane's streets looking for a bed for the night.

Many hotels were asking R2 500 for a basic room for the night.

Many South Africans who attended the game had resigned themselves to Bafana Bafana making an early exit from the tournament after their 3-0 loss to Uruguay on Wednesday.

"We are out for sure," said Alfred Sibiya, a shop owner from Phalaborwa.

"But it doesn't matter. Now we can concentrate on all the good soccer we have. It is a once in a life chance."

Fan Fest

Meanwhile, the cold did not deter staunch Mexican fans who did not have tickets from visiting the FIFA Fan Fest in Polokwane.

There were fewer people than previous days, but those present made up for the numbers with their vivacious team spirit singing, dancing, clapping and blowing the vuvuzela to keep warm while watching the match on the big screen.

Locals Bernice van Niekerk and Carla van Wyk braved the cold to experience their first Fan Fest, saying they were humbled to be part of the World Cup.

"We were very impressed with the way the traffic department dealt with the traffic," they added.

Colin Mahlare, William Thema and Thabiso Nong were also locals who had come to the Fan Fest every day since it had opened.

"We love the music and entertainment as well as the beautiful foreign ladies," one of the young men said with a wink.

As they had no television at home, the Fan Fest had made it possible for them to follow the World Cup games closely.

All the way from Honduras, Laura Hernandez, Brian Hernandez, Ren Hernandez, Edgar Olan and Bertha Corad said it was their first time in Polokwane and, indeed, South Africa.

"This area (Polokwane) is very beautiful," they said.

They especially loved the rhythm of South Africa's house music, which had the same rhythm and moves as a dance in their country known as "punta".

"We love the people, their happiness and the vibe at the Fan Fest."

These Hondurans supported France and said they would be sorry to leave South Africa.

Mexican fans thrilled


Mexicans Paris Fernadez and Patricia Glass, were celebrities in their own country. Patricia is a news reporter while Paris is a comic political character known as "El Capitain Guarniz".

They said the information they had received about South Africa in Mexico was all wrong.

"For example, we were told people fleeing Zimbabwe and Mozambique come through the Kruger National Park. They bang pots and pans together to warn off the wild animals that want to eat them."

Both were delirious with joy at their country's 2-0 win against France.

They were planning to visit each city where there was a World Cup stadium and would be travelling to Tzaneen and on to Phalaborwa next. From there they hope to travel through the Kruger National Park and exit at one of the gates in Mpumalanga.

To date there has been no World Cup related crime incidents in Polokwane or the province.

The two goals by Mexico were scored by Javier Hernandez and Cuauhtemoc Blanco. The goalless loss by France meant that they had even more to prove in their next match, which will be against Bafana Bafana.

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