I've been in South Africa for a couple of weeks but hadn't gotten to any games until yesterday. On my flight over, there were six FIFA World Cup refs from Mexico, and I got to take a picture with Marco Rodriguez, who wound up reffing the Germany-Australia game. I had another celebrity sighting a couple days ago in Sun City, when we ran into Asamoah Gyan, who scored Ghana's penalty kick against Serbia. He was really nice, and we took another picture.
We went to our first game of the tournament last night, South Africa-Uruguay. The game was at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, and we were lucky because we didn't have to do a park-and-ride. One of our friends works nearby, and we walked about a mile to the stadium! That day, almost everyone was wearing something Bafana Bafana, so the spirit was alive and it was great! We walked there all dressed up, and it was amazing!
Security was easy, and everyone was so kind and accommodating. Everyone was blowing their vuvuzelas and waving their flags! Since my boyfriend is South African, I was obviously cheering my heart out for South Africa! Our seat were at the corner, but we could still see the game well. I was tearing up during the South African national anthem, because everyone was singing their heart out and just ready to play. We were all quite upset about the result but are ready for the USA game tomorrow!
[inline_node:4648]Ed Camara - Soccer 4 All
We are in the beautiful Durban Stadium awaiting the start of the Spain-Switzerland match ... magnificent!
Ed Camara - Soccer 4 All
What a different two days in South Africa ... We arrived in Durban yesterday, and the weather was beautiful ... Temperatures in the 70s. We had a stroll on the beach on the Indian Ocean. However, today the weather changed dramatically with highs in the 50s ... We decided to drive through a game park and saw hippos, wildebeest, zebras, warthogs, and antelope. Came back and watched both Portugal-Ivory Coast and Brazil-North Korea at our Guest House. Tomorrow we have tickets to the Spain-Switzerland game in Durban before leaving on Thursday for Nelspruit.
On a very pleasent afternoon yesterday, my friends and I left Jo'burg headed to Rustenburg, where the USA was facing England. The drive took about two hours. We left at noon (South African time) to have pleny of time before the match began. We did have to make at least five or six U-turns, since we don't know the area and you have to drive on the left side of the road in South Africa. On the way to Rustenburg, we stopped and ate at an Irish pub, thinking that if we ran into any rowdy England fans, the Irish would have our backs, considering the Irish are not very fond of the English. We did run into a couple of English fans at the pub, but they were very cool. They were wearing England, Manchester United, and Chelsea jerseys. Many of the English fans also had flags on their backs.
We arrived to the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. The game didn't start until 8:30 pm. The celebrations were already taking place; I would say there were 65 percent English fans to 35 percent American fans. Everybody was blowing their Vuvuzuelas, drinking, dancing, and singing chants. It was a very healthy rivalry in Rustenburg.
We met a really cool U.S. fan before the game. His name is Ryan, and he lives in Scotland at the moment, but he was born in Houston. He was wearing Chingy's US jersey and a Dynamo headband, so we had to grab a picture.
We entered the stadium at 8 p.m. to watch the teams do their pre-match warm-ups. The Royal Bafokeng Stadium was covered with England flags, but both the US and England fans were equally as loud. England looked very determined in the first minutes of the match, which allowed them to score first after a great assist by Heskey and very precise Gerrard finish. Afte being down a goal, USA got stronger and started pressuring more in all their lines, especially in the backline. The US responded with a header by Altidore that went wide after a great cross by Donovan. Lennon and Rooney gave the US defense a lot of trouble. Lennon had some great runs and very dangerous crosses to Howard's box, but Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu would be there to deflect them out of trouble for the US.
Donovan, Findley, and Dempsey started getting more involved, and the US started creating goal situations. Gerard and Lampard from England did an outstanding job closing down the US attacks. But toward the end of the first half on a play that didn't look like it would have any danger for England, Dempsey controlled the ball outside the English box and set himself up for a shot with his left foot. Dempsey unleashed the shot that didn't have much power, but it was low, and you never know what kind of bounce the new Adidas Jabulani is going to take. Green. The goalkeeper for England seemed very confident, and it looked like it would be a very easy save, but after the ball hit Green's gloves, it made a very strange bounce and rolled into the net very slowly. The American fans were louder than the English for the first time in the match for a few minutes, chanting "USA! USA! USA!"
England had most of the control in the second half of the match. Lennon again made great runs, Rooney was creating plays and taking shots on Howard, and Heskey had the most clear goal opportunity for England when he had a one-on-one against Howard, but his shot was caught by the American goalkeeper. USA also had a chance to get the win when Jozy Altidore powered himself through the English defense and only had Green to beat, but Altidore opted to go near-post with his shot, were Green was positioned. It was a great save by the English goalkeeper that got help from the post to maintain a 1-1 score. It was pretty cool to see a guy raised in Houston and a former Dynamo player take the field when Stuart Holden came on late, joining another former Dynamo - Ricardo Clark - in the game.
In the last minutes of the game, it seemed that both the English and Americans were more concerned not to lose the game, rather than go for the win. The game ended with a very exciting 1-1 tie, and the USA continue to have a better record against England in World Cup play. Let's hope USA has a better record then England in the group stage and qualifies first in Group C. If the USA doesn't qualify first, it might have to play Germany in the next round, which it would be another hard match-up for the USA.
Ed Camara - Soccer 4 All
A sea of yellow last night at the opening game ... and the game didn't disappoint. South African fans are all so pleasant and excited to have the World Cup here. They were crushed when Marquez tied the game up, but they continued to blow horns the entire game. We are now on the way to THE GAME in Rustenberg ... a 3-hour drive from Johannesburg for the 8:30 p.m. (local time) game. Unfortunately that means we probably won't get back to our hotel until 2 in the morning. I can't wait to sing the national anthem as USA fans sing the loudest of anyone. More later ...
I'm leaving London headed to Johannesburg and met up with some USA fans in the airport. The guy on the far right is wearing the jersey the U.S. wore when they beat England 1-0 back in the World Cup in 1950.
[inline_node:4564]Ed Camara - Soccer 4 All
As we took the bus to the pregame festivities for the opening game at Soccer City in Johannesburg today, all the Mexican invitees from adidas are on the same bus, dressed in Mexico's black jerseys.[inline_node:4565]
Once we arrived, we got to witness the opening ceremonies ... awesome.
Ed Camara - Soccer 4 All
We arrived at 8 a.m. this morning after a 15-hour flight from New York ... the longest flight my wife Cece, my grandson Tyler, and I have ever been on. As soon as we arrived, I had to go upstairs ahead of everyone to collect our World Cup tickets to five different games, including the USA-England game!
Green- and white-clad Mexican fans were everywhere, and one especially loud one was already dressed to party in a sombrero and colorful poncho. All the other Mexican fans were taking pictures with him.
After waiting 30 minutes to get to the front of the line, we had our tickets and were off to an Adidas World Cup launch welcome for their top soccer specialty retailers. Now we are just trying to stay awake for dinner and a special South African dance show tonight before we crash.
Tomorrow is the opening match, Mexico-South Africa, and we will be there early to watch all the pre-game festivities. More to follow ...