Get excited for football

Friday, January 22, 2010

Johannesburg - Get out your vuvuzela, wave your flag and get ready to welcome football fans from around the world when their teams play in Jozi.

Some of the top football nations will be playing at Joburg's two World Cup host stadiums, Soccer City and Ellis Park, during the group stages of the 32-nation tournament, reports Joburg.org.

With a total of 15 of the 64 matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup being played in Johannesburg - 10 matches in the group stages, two round of 16 matches, two quarterfinals and the final match - there will certainly be plenty of action for local fans.

"We will host the opening match where Bafana Bafana will play against Mexico. We urge all South Africans to rally behind the national team during this game," said Linda Ngwenya, the Director 2010: bid book compliance.

Ngwenya said that with less than five months before kickoff of the month-long football tournament on 11 June, Joburg citizens should start getting excited about hosting one of the greatest sporting events in the world.

He urged them to take out their South African flags and fly them high outside their houses and on the streets.

"We are also hosting the opening and closing ceremonies ... events that will thrust the city in the world's limelight. Also, we will be hosting some top teams that have set up base in the city."

Three teams have confirmed that they will be based in Joburg - Australia, Holland and Mexico.

On 11 June, the 88 000 seat Soccer City Stadium will host the opening match, with Bafana Bafana taking on Mexico. It is expected to attract a full house. The match starts at 4pm.

Bafana Bafana have played Mexico on three occasions; Mexico has won twice and Bafana Bafana once. The South African national team, which has not fared well lately in friendly matches against top European teams, is expected to step up its game and come out tops with the backing of the home crowd.

Another match to look forward to in the group stages is Argentina versus Nigeria at Ellis Park on 12 June. The Argentineans, who have picked Pretoria as their base camp, have a passionate fan base and are expected to bring a multitude of them to drum up support for their team.

Nigeria will also not be short of support. Johannesburg, a city well-known for its cosmopolitan nature, is home to scores of nationalities from Africa.

Combined with scores of fans travelling from Nigeria, the streets in these areas will certainly turn into a mass of green and white on the day of the match, which starts at 4pm.

Another match involving an African country is Ghana versus Germany at Soccer City on 23 June, this time starting at 8.30pm. Like Nigeria, Ghana also has a large number of its citizens living in Johannesburg.

Hopefully the team's charismatic number one supporter, Oboa Samuel, will be there. He paints his whole body green and red and carries a pot on his head.

The match is expected to be a humdinger as the Germans are no pushovers.
Yet another match that is expected to attract a lot of attention is Brazil versus Ivory Coast at Soccer City on 20 June, starting at 8.30pm.

With famous players like Didier Grogba, who attended a 2009 Confederations Cup match at Ellis Park, and Brazilian Kaka expected to strut their stuff, the game is expected to be popular.

The Samba Boys, as the Brazilian national team is fondly called by its multitude of supporters, are famous for attracting a full house whenever they play at big football tournament. And the fans of the five-times world champions are expected to descend on Johannesburg to support their team on the night.

Besides these, Johannesburg will also host matches involving top teams like USA, Netherlands, Spain and Denmark during the group stages.

"We expect football fans in Johannesburg to fill up the two stadiums during the group stages, whichever team is playing," says Ngwenya.

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