South Africa vs France

ZA vs. France – Match Day

After a great sleep in a comfortable bed with an electric blanket and a hot shower I didn’t think it could get any better at La Porte Vase B&B, but I was delighted to be wrong. The breakfast was delicious and quite filling. We had fruit salad with pineapple, papaya, and grapes to start followed by Yogurt and cereal for the second course. Our third and final course was scrambled eggs, 2 sausages, a slice of bacon, grilled mushrooms/tomatoes and toast. Although Kroonstad is not a typical place for foreign tourists, if anyone is driving the N1 in route to Port Elizabeth I would highly recommend La Porte Vase as a sleep stop. It was well worth the money.

It was only a two hour drive to Bloemfontein, so we arrived at Grace Cottage just after twelve in the afternoon to check in. In our room the owners had prepared a very helpful world cup packet with all the information we needed on parking.  Bloemfontein was offering a park and walk option which we decided would probably be easier for exiting the game later. We noticed a big store with a sign saying “uniform store designs custom sports uniforms” that caught our eye and would later visit.

Face painted and anxious to get there we arrived at the park and walk 3 hours before kick off. It was the first FIFA parking to ask to see our official match tickets for entry. I don’t know how it is possible that every time we have parked it has been completely different, I thought they all were supposed to be following the same protocol.

We had a lovely scenic walk to the stadium, passing by the Bloemfontien zoo and Kings park. Bloemfontein is known as the “city of roses” because of the over 4,000 roses bushes in the park and around the rest of the city.

City of Roses

There were no metal detectors at the gate we entered so everyone was being patted down and bags were being hand searched. After already being given the ok to go through by a female security guard, but I was stopped by her supervisor and asked if I had any other large lens in my bag. ” No this is my only lens” and demonstrated its maximum length. The female security guard explained to him that she had already checked by bag and there was not another lens, but he told her to search again. He was certainly not satisfied that both her and I were telling the truth, so out came all my warm clothes (hat, scarf, gloves) and guess what no lens. The supervisor clearly had no knowledge of purses or large camera lens because anything big enough to obstruct another fans view of the game would never have fit in my purse. As I stuffed my things back in my bag the supervisor stopped a man next to me with a kuduzala and told him only vuvuzelas were allowed in the stadium. The guy yelled at him that he had taken into both Soccer City and Ellis Park with no problem only a few days ago. The supervisor responded new FIFA policy. If there really was a change in the policy, which I’m not really sure there was, FIFA needs to come up with a better way of alerting fans then the gates of the stadium where it is no longer convenient to return the banded item to the car.

Once inside we were in a sea of yellow and green with a mere scattering of French blue chicken hats… Oh I mean strong powerful cocks. Everyone was upbeat and hopeful that Bafana Bafana would be able to score the three goals they needed to qualify for the Second Round, especially since the French team was in a bit of disarray.

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Bloemfontein is known for having some of the most passionate sports fans in the country and it is 100% true. The atmosphere of this game was the most lively and enthusiastic of any of the games we have attended thus far. Fans sang, danced, and cheered not just after a goal was scored but during the entire match. At one point in the game the entire stadium (both top and bottom seating) successfully completed several rounds of the wave.

At half time with the score 2-0 it seemed as if South Africa was well on its way to qualifying for the Second Round, especially since France was down a player after the Ref pulled a red card. It was the first red card I have ever seen given at a live match, so I was pretty stoked. Unfortunately, the second half did not go as well for Bafana Bafana who despite several attempts were never able to pull off that important third goal. France came back to score one goal, but it wasn’t enough. At the blow of the final whistle both teams were out of the World Cup 2010 and South Africa became the first host team ever to not qualify for the Second Round.

Despite the fact that Bafana Bafana was out people were still in a generally good mood, well except the French.  I guess South Africans figured at least one African country would make it into the Second Round, so they would still have a team to cheer for.

Back at the car we used the iPad to find a nearby Mexican restaurant called ‘Mexican’ ( yeah real original) to go eat dinner and watch the games. As we started to back out woman in an official FIFA park & ride uniform knocked on our window and said parking was 5 Rand. Alex looked at her like you have to be kidding me you think you can pull that on me. He told her No FIFA parking is Free and pulled away. I really wonder how many other people she told that to that night who actually payed her. I mean five Rand really is nothing, but it what pissed us off is she was exploiting the power of her uniform to make more money even though she is getting a salary from FIFA.

Getting out past the stadium to Mexican was hectic and the street where restaurant was  located was swamped with people. Once we made it inside we asked the hostess if there were any tables available (five tables were set for large parties, but were empty). She told us that all the tables were full, so Alex asked if we could put our name on a list and hang out in the bar. She said she doesn’t like to do that because people tend to get agitated when they wait. We walked out and took our money across the street to get take way pizza to enjoy back out our place.

Up early tomorrow and off to Pretoria for the US-Algeria game.

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