Bafana fan frenzy grips Durban

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Durban - It might have been an ocean of yellow and green next to the warm Durban water but it was definitely one of our most rich and colourful moments in South African history.

Durban hosted its parties of all parties in recent years as a capacity crowd gathered at the FIFA Centre in New Beach on Friday.

They came in their numbers as early as 11.30am and got the party started on the beach dancing to a host of local musician's offerings.

Every turn was met with yet another group of people breaking out into dance and song. And the language spoken was one of unity.

As the build up to the opening ceremony continued, fans started to fill the venue.

Once the opening ceremony kicked-off at Soccer City in Johannesburg, the atmosphere got a whole lot more frenzied with the anticipation of the opening match between Bafana Bafana and Mexico.

A crowd favourite was local band TKZee, much applause was also given to US star R Kelly.

But the loudest cheers were reserved for the Moses Mabhida Stadium as the all the host venues were displayed and South Africa when all teams competing in the World Cup were listed.

The fan centre caught the spirit off the World Cup quite beautifully with Durbanites and tourists embracing, playing football and blowing vuvulezas in such unison.

Not many wanted to speak to the media, because partying was the only thing on the agenda.

But Kgopotso Maja, who relocated from Limpopo over a year ago, could barely contain her excitement.

"It's amazing. I just love Durban because it's so free and welcoming. Today we just shooting pictures and I have hugged just about everyone I can. It's just so great the way we are getting to know each other," said Maja.

One Mexican fan was in the middle of a dance circle, and although unable to speak much English, looked right at home.

They were Spanish, Argentinean, Greek and Portugal fans among the massive crowd.

But it was no surprise that a big Australian and Germany following were in the city. The two nations will play their opening match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Sunday.

There was one fan who had a framed picture of former president Nelson Mandela and there were many posters that appealed to Bafana Bafana to win for Madiba, who lost his great grandchild early on Friday.

Siphiwe Tshabalala's opening goal left the crowd celebrating for well over 10 minutes.

Although the Mexicans equalised, there was nothing that could stop South Africans from enjoying a day which many feel was just too emotional to describe.