Everyone in Cape Town has a favourite player. But what about Bafana's team chemistry? I posed the question to a Cape Town chemist.
I just took delivery of my Uruguay Makarapa from an arts and crafts shop in Cape Town. The artisan had done his research. He needed no reminding about “Los Charruas” or “Soy Celeste”, though he did need me to explain why the little Uruguayan cut-out player had to have 4 Stars on his shirt!
It was a little harder to convey that Uruguayans are a blended nation. I had my 'Buggin' Out' moment when my Uruguayan looked like he'd finish up as an Italian. It was also crucial my 'Obdulio' looked nothing like the lone messy Argentine character on the shelf or like the row of bland looking Brazilian brothers occupying pride of place in the store front window. Adding Obdulio Varela’s No. 5 on the back was a beautiful touch. And Artigas himself would have looked the part in the red boots!
I recognize there is essentially no difference between folk on opposite sides of the Uruguay and across the border from Chuy, except that Uruguay has a crucial genetic edge in the ability to play brilliant football!
Just so y'all know: Uruguay is presently sandwiched between Maradona's one man team and Dunga's unimaginative collective of defensive dullards.
And yes it is time to be talking TRASH. TOO RIGHT IT IS! The first World Cup in Africa is only 11 days away!!!
The "Makarapa" was invented by Alfred "Magistrate" Boyoli. Boyoli's mate was hit by a bottle at a Kaiser Chiefs match some years ago. It was this bit of football hooliganism that inspired Boyoli.
For the record, I remember Liverpool supporters wearing red and white hard hats emblazoned with sticky Liver Birds to away games back in the day, when bottles, sharpened coins, darts, golf balls with nails hammered in 'em, and piping hot steak and kidney pies were regularly hurled at matches throughout England.
Boyoli's genius has been to elaborate with the addition of cut out players and patterns, with places to fly all your paraphernalia. The Makarapa promises to be one of the great fun features of the world cup.
I will leave it to Lusanda, a co-conspirator in the cyber world of football, to tell the story.
Is this the end of the Jester Hat? We can only hope!
Cape Town's Shoppers show that Siphiwe Tshabalala ain't the only South African who got moves.
Props to the Phoenix Koyade Band for orchestrating and to the crowd at the Amphitheatre of the Victoria and Albert Waterfront Shopping Centre for cheering on the dance team!
These fine football folks had driven many miles from the Cape provinces to get tickets for the World Cup.
They were disappointed Bafana Bafana will not be playing in Cape Town, but check out their Continental Coming Togetherness!
The Bafanki Banfanki are feeling it!
What I am finding most remarkable about this story is that it was more than just a kick around or a kick in the park. It was nation building.
I passed by a bank in Cape Town late this morning. Folks had been lining up for their last crack at tickets since dawn. But apparently the system at this particular branch was misbehaving, and some folks, though patient, remained ticketless, and were not amused.
It's impossible to know the scope of South Africa's ticket distribution problems today. This was seemingly an opportunity for folks to pick up a few random tickets for the odd game here and there. The ill ticketing of this tournament has been well documented. It's most unfortunate said disconnects in the system remain.
I don't know why at this stage it wasn't possible to print "x" number of tickets for "y" games in advance and just flog 'em old school style from the local football stadiums such as in Cape Town, Greenpoint, Phillipi, Athlone, et cetera.
Bafana Bafana's 2-1 win last night means they are now unbeaten in the ten games since the return of Carlos Alberto Parreira. Make no mistake. South Africa are good, and will be a formidable presence in Group A. They are far from the finished article, but there is a growing sense of belief about their game. One senses the players believe in themselves, television pundits are beginning to pump folk up suggesting even winning the World Cup is possible (I like that), and supporters I have been speaking to are now starting to believe too. Such optimism is contagious and will be at it most virulent for the opening fixture. I suspect Mexico will need more than just ear plugs and prayers when they take to the field in Johannesburg's Soccer City.
Colombia came correct and deserved more from the game. But the home team had the rub of the green. An Ox was slaughtered on the pitch by a 70 year old warrior the day before the match. And the ref was blind. If the game had been more than a friendly, I suspect the Colombians may gone one up on local rituals and smoked the Kenyan referee. This was a game of three penalties. South African’s second penalty was given for a sweetly timed game saving interception, not a foul.
Still Bafana Bafana showed they can match a side of the calibre of Colombia. Other observations: Tshabalala will be a serious threat from outside the box. Do not be surprised if the lad unleashes the first ‘screamer’ of the tournament. I can now see why the locals love their Tshabalala. And they love their Steven Pienaar too, the girls in particular. Pienaar’s introduction as a 2nd Half substitute was Beatlesqusue. And a quick word on the goalkeepers. Bafana Bafana’s No. 3 the lad Josephs was voted Goalkeeper of the Year in the South African Premier League. He replaced the injured Khune at half time and produced a series of sound and spectacular saves. Scoring against South Africa will not be easy.
Bafana Bafana versus Colombia were top of the bill, but I also managed to consume a lot of commercials (more on those later), catch up with the highlights of the previous night’s friendlies, and also got a taste of network television from the former front line states of Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. I woke up this morning to Zimbabwe ‘showing the Willow’ to India. Two Indians were ran out in quick succession. FIFA could learn a lot from the Zimbabwean technology. The run-outs were quickly adjudicated by the help of a camera. The final decision of the umpire relayed to the crowd through a cable connected to an old set of traffic lights. Cheers of delight went up with every red light.
It’s another beautfiul morning in Cape Town, but last night was a portend of what the rainy season can bring to the game. I got a feeling Cape Town is going to host a classic or two in the knock out stages. There has been a lot of talk of teams preparing for altitude. But progress through Cape Town may require a team that can cope with a storm. (Only three teams have chosen to be based at sea level on the Western Cape: Denmark, France and Japan.)
The Australians were the first to arrive in South Africa. Brazil followed yesterday. The local press are reporting the following arrival times for the rest of South Africa's guests.
The Danes are scheduled to arrive on Saturday. Argentina on Sunday. Uncle Sam on Thursday. Chile and Mexico next Friday. France, Nigeria, South Korea, and Uruguay next Saturday. Algeria, Greece, Holland, Japan, New Zealand and Portugal all set to hit the tarmac on June 6th. Germany, Ghana and Slovenia follow on June 7th. Serbia arrive on June 9th. Cote I'Voire and Slovakia on June 10th. And Spain will be here on June 11th. (NB. I believe there is some FIFA by-law about teams having to arrive a week before the tournament, so expect those times to change.)
And there's still time for y'all to come on through. South Africans will embrace you; apparently there's tickets to be had and there's plenty of Warthog and lashings of Castle Lager to go round.
It was an absolute treat to meet Avril and Morris. They, like many of their contemporaries, were "thrilled" about the prospect of the World Cup coming to their home town.
Avril confided in me later. She said that after 48 years of marriage, this was the first she'd heard of Morris' two footed, silky wing play.
I spent the morning with some serious senior folk in Cape Town. Baxter Auditorium at the University of Cape Town was packed to the rafters for a lecture on FIFA and the legacy of the World Cup, delivered by Lauren Platzky. I had ventured on campus expecting to find a small woolly collective of football connoisseurs. What I found instead were hundreds upon hundreds of Cape Town’s seniors getting their football ON!!!
Apparently there were football friendlies last night. I didn't care to watch. Cape Town had other offerings. I attended a gathering of young and vibrant local artists and filmmakers. Short films were shown. Food, Incarceration and Language all featured. Discussions were had. It was a very Wednesday night affair. I had not realized the hybrid of linguistic influences on Afrikaans, in particular the role of various mother tongues.
The night closed with a performance by an featured artist. Peter John had once done bird. Now he was singing to a captive audience. Don't worry if you can't see but his shadow. It's all about what he has to say!
There is some debate here about who should be the Bafana Bafana keeper. Rowen 'Spider' Fernández has been injured of late, and may struggle for a starting place. The Spider is best know for penalty saving heroics, which could be useful in the later rounds. I was impressed with Itumeleng Khune's performance against Bulgaria.
I asked Lucia who she thought was the best Bafana Bafana goalie. Lucia's response was categorical. Itumeleng Khune...of course! And who does Itumeleng Khune play for? The Kaiser Chiefs...of course! And who does Lucia support? The Kaiser Chiefs...of course!
I suspect if Lucia was in Carlos Perreira's position, she'd choose a whole team of Kaiser Chiefs!
Cape Town has that 'arriving in the box...unmarked' feel to the place. All praises here for the perfectly timed through ball from Super Eagle, Kalode. On Friday night, I was exchanging football philosophies with your average man on the street in a Nigerian shirt. By Sunday, I was the first guest at his home for a night of African food and music from three local improvisors.
You are spared the football vignettes, the night was more about the food and the music. But between stirring the Jolof Rice and cracking open the Windhoeks my host did issue warnings about Victor Anichebe. I will be getting the full Super Eagles debrief from Kolade next week.
Here's Zimmer, Eramus and Bussy. Together they sort of have the ring of a famous midfield from back in the day. It's subterranean stuff, but it should you give a little taste of the Observatory section of Cape Town on a Sunday Night.
I am sure there are plenty broadcast quality YouTubes of last night's action and even more analysis out there. I just have a highlight of Siyabonga Sangweni ghosting in at the back post and a few brief observations to jot down.
South Africa have a snap, crackle and pop about their game. And this without a couple of their crucial players, such as Steven Pienaar.
South Africa promise to be dangerous in the early stages of a match. They can pepper an opponents goal with shots before their opponent can find their napkins.
My man Kubra is right. Siphiwe Tshabalala has got dimensions to his game.
Respect to Bulgaria for coming to play. This was no end of season friendly. There was fire in the belly of the Bulgars. Slyvian Petrov patrolled the park like a hungry guard dog. He gave his all for 94 minutes. Valeri Bojinov showed what a serious forward can do if given half a chance. Bafana beware.
Teko Modise was captain for the night. South African became super sloopy after he was substituted half way through the 2nd half. Modise is a thinking man's footballer.
Itumeleng Khune has presence between the sticks. He was aggressive and faultless. And his kick is accurate. Rowen Fernandez has serious competition. I can't comment on Shu-Aib Walters or Moeneeb Josephs.
Benni McCarthy remained on the bench. Surely he must play against Colombia.
I was curious if folks in Cape Town would fancy a friendly. Last night Bafana were hosting Bulgaria. I had seen how a major Rugby match involving a local side had overshadowed the UEFA Champions League Final, as it should it have done. But what would the 'downtown' vibe be on a random Monday night in Cape Town when Orlando Stadium in Soweto was home to the good guys.
My worst fears were realized. And this despite their being a noticeable local attachment to the pageantry of participation in the World Cup. I made a point of passing by most every significant establishment on the very long, Long Street, its ancillary arteries and its lofty continium, Kloof Street. There were plenty of folk about, eating and engaging in various act of jolly. But in the background of every joint, multiple plasma screens were featuring the West Indies, 'showing 'em the Willow'.
I decided to make specific and unscientific enquiries about this Beyond the Boundary clash with Bafana. The responses were overwhelmingly ridiculous.
I was greeted with a smile in the magnetic Long Street Cafe, but that soon morphed into a muddled expression when I asked, "Are you showing the football?" "Who's playing?", the demur waitress, responded. "You are.", I politely replied. She quickly retreated and searched for reinforcements, clearly still not quite sure what I had meant by "You". She returned and asked if I had meant, "South Africa"? "Yes, your team is playing tonight, and I have come thousands of miles to share such moments with you.", I added, longingly. There followed a conference of managers in the rear and she returned with a red card. "No, we showing the cricket."
This pattern continued along the main drag and was no different as I climbed Kloof. The Hudson Burger Joint on Kloof has a stable of fine young fillies working the tables. It's a small cosy place. It tends to be busy and folks are friendly. So, I'm not hating. But c'mon now. Talk about gluttons for punishment. How much Willow can you take?
Finally, relief at a simple and straightforward establishment, Arnolds. It's the sort of Breakfast served till 5 O'clock place you'd find in Brooklyn. Nothing flashy, just decent grub at decent prices. The wait staff were not dolled up, as in other places, they were just there and ready to assist, and more importantly, the management was there to satisfy my Bafana craving. Mike the manager needed no prompting about the importance of Bafana. Customer is King kinda place. I shared a table with Mike (before he departed). He assessed my peckishness and ensured an order of fine Warthog ribs was readied. He made feel me welcome and was attentive to every detail, particularly, the warthog juice dripping from my jaw. The young waiter was quick to quench my thirst with my first ever quaff of Castle, and kept them coming. Another manager, Enoch, took over, doubling the welcome and bringing some strong Bafana observations to the table.
Here's a little bar side vignette of Bafana lining up against the Bulgars in Soweto. I hope its gives a little flavour of the evening.
I am on the look out for a fine Shebeen in Athlone for the next friendly against Colombia. Suggestions are welcome.
I asked Zubra to introduce us to the South African players who will surprise the world. Zubra gave me three names. Siphiwe Tshabalala of the Kaiser Chiefs. Teko Modise of the Orlando Pirates. And Katlego Mphela of the Mamelodi Sundowns.
I understand the Mexicans are having a debate about who is their best goalkeeper. Is it Luis Michel, Guillermo Ochoa, or Oscar Perez? In a word: Futile! Tshabalala, Modise and Mphela can all smell a goal from forty yards! There's gonna be some serious "G5" action around the Mexican box on June 11th."Watch out World, South Africa is coming...We're going to be No. 1 in our group!"