Exodus could silence vuvuzelas

2010-06-23 14:03
Johannesburg – South Africa insisted on Wednesday it would remain the perfect World Cup host, but a string of first round failures by African teams on their home turf threatened to muzzle the buzz of the vuvuzela.

After South Africa bowed out on Tuesday afternoon despite a brave victory over France, Nigeria followed them out of the tournament by drawing with South Korea, leaving only Ghana and Algeria with realistic hopes of progress.

But even they face a daunting challenge to stay in the tournament, facing up respectively against the mighty Germany and the United States in their final first round matches on Wednesday.

Warm and wonderful hosts

Defeat would mean Africa will have no representatives in the second round for the first time since 1982. A record six teams from the continent took part this time in what is the first tournament to be held on African soil.

"Ghana, Do It For Africa," read a headline in The Star newspaper as it urged South Africa not to allow the disappointment to become overwhelming and to keep blowing their ear-splitting trumpets.

"The vuvuzelas might lose some of their oomph from today, but we must immediately assume our rightful role – as warm and wonderful hosts," said the paper in an editorial.

Nokuphila Khumalo, a South African who saw the France game at a Johannesburg fan park, acknowledged the volume of support would come down a notch.

"This is the last time you'll hear the vuvuzela. But the spirit will go on because South Africans are going to choose other countries," said Khumalo.

Rather than nail her colours to another African mast, the 23-year-old IT consultant said she would now rally behind one of the favourites.

Same colour shirts as Brazil

"I support Brazil. Many South Africans are going to do the same because the t-shirt is the same colour, yellow and green."

While the collapse of the challenge from elsewhere in the continent has been a cause of deep disappointment, South Africa's performance was perhaps to be expected given their lowly pre-tournament world ranking of 83.

South African President Jacob Zuma, who met the team in the dressing room after the match with France, said they had done the country proud.

"It would have been great to have Bafana Bafana progress to the next stage, but their exit doesn't mean the end of the tournament," said Zuma.

Active role as hosts

"Government urges South Africans to continue playing an active role in the country's hosting of the historic 2010 FIFA World Cup. After all, this is still our World Cup."

Danny Jordaan, the chief local organiser, said he did not believe South Africa's exit would turn the tournament into a damp squib.

"It may be over for Bafana Bafana but it is not over for South Africa. This is still South Africa's World Cup. We are not going home, the World Cup is happening in our home," he said.

"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."

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