Icons.com at the World Cup:
This game was what the World Cup was all about. After the South African team had gone out of the tournament everyone we spoke to had turned their support to their fellow Africans and instead of the Bafana Bafana, come Saturday, BeGhana BeGhana was the cry on the street. The USA on the other hand had overtaken England in their group in the last minute of injury time.
We travelled the two hours north of Joburg in a van full of switching South African fans and one solitary US supporter. The match took place in the Royal Bafokeng Stadium outside Rustenburg. The stadium is community-owned and built with the proceeds of the platinum mines that sit on the lands of the Bafokeng King. The stadium itself looks like it’s been dropped out of the sky onto an African plain, it’s a football venue on a different planet.
The build up to the match was fantastic. More Americans had bought tickets on FIFA.com than any other nation and they were out in force.
To say they had dressed up for the occasion is an understatement. There were stars and stripes, facepaints and Captain America outfits everywhere. In opposition were a few good-natured Ghanians and thousands of neutral fans backing their team for the night.
As you can see our party was no exception.
The game itself was tense and gripping. All the goals were scored at our end so we had a great view of the penalty that wasn’t, and the winner that was. The American supporters hadn’t really developed their singing beyond “U.S.A” and “Yes, we can”, which always elicited the response of “No, you can’t”. Friends texted to say that Bill Clinton was in the stands sitting next to Mick Jagger, meanwhile I’m sure I saw a dress-down Timmy Mallett near the toilets, so all the big names were here.
The extra time brought more excitement and more shivering as the temperatures plummeted. In the end on purely footballing terms Ghana deserved the win, and Africa deserved to keep their final representative in the competition. Pity for the US supporters to have to go home though, as they seemed to be enjoying the whole new experience of a global sport competition.
As for us we got back to our team bus knowing we would have 3 hours sleep before starting the trip to Bloemfontein for the England Germany clash.