Just over 13 000 fans hoping for a miracle result crammed into the FIFA Fan Fest™ at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday afternoon to watch the live broadcast of the crunch match between Bafana Bafana and France.
Despite the opening week’s inclement weather, Tuesday’s total attendance of 16 200 nudged the overall figures over the 120 000-mark.
Although there were too many permutations to mention, Bafana’s mission was simple – giving the former World Champions a decent hiding in order to somehow manufacture a five-goal swing on goal-difference with Mexico and six with Uruguay.
Fans could be forgiven if they at one point thought the miracle was about to happen after the hosts scored twice in the first half without reply.
But, in the end, Bafana had simply left themselves with too much to do and the final scoreline of 2-1 only succeeded in numbing the pain caused by their first-round exit.
Among the boisterous crowd was Daves Nderu, 40, who had travelled all the way from Kenia in the hope of getting a ticket to one of Bafana’s matches at the last minute, but failed.
“Bafana represented Africa, therefore I supported them,” he said. “When they scored their first goal, I had hope. The second made me believe that they could win.”
Ten-year-old Capetonian Joshua Lategan travelled to PE to watch Monday’s match between Chile and Switzerland. He was certain that the home team would beat France and said he felt “ayoba” when Bafana scored.
Port Elizabethans and best friends Pharren Bekker and Ashleigh Liddel, both 19, were also among the mesmerised fans.
“The vibe was even better than last time when Bafana lost against Uruguay,” said Bekker.
Liddel said she felt “extremely proud” to be a South African after Bafana’s performance and she believed the tournament was uniting the nation.
Two matches will be broadcast live at the Fan Fest on Wednesday. First up will be the host city game between Slovenia and England at 4pm with Ghana and Germany facing off at 8.30pm.
Entrance is free.
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CAPTION: Fans of all descriptions arrived in their droves to support Bafana Bafana at the FIFA Fan Fest in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. Photos: Richard Huggard and Alan Straton
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FIFA Fan Fest™