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7am, couldn’t sleep anymore… Not only was I about to embark on my pilgrimage to Soccer City, our second stadium outing was due to kick off at 13:30, and we needed to be on the road by 10:00 to be safe. Got up; spit, showered, and shaved; dressed with a hint of blue and made sure I had Chris’ Scotland flag in tow (because I promised I’d represent). Stocked up the cooler box with our pre-game bevies, biltong, sandwiches, etc; then, had a wee breakfast whilst waiting for everyone else to catch up!

This time, it was a family affair! We’d specifically chosen to attend an afternoon game so that my mom and little sister could come along and experience the atmosphere too, hopefully with no drama. After the events that followed the Brazil vs Korea DPR match, I think the logic was justified. Once at the stadium I was actually surprised at how eager my mom was to get in on the action, even trying out the Vuvuzela and later joining in the Mexican waves.

Arriving at Soccer City, you’d be forgiven for believing a full-scale military operation was underway… armoured vehicles, riot police, sirens screaming, metal detectors, full body searches, etc. The Share World parking lot just down the road was abuzz with clusters of fans, friends, and families gathered around braai stands and open boots with speakers blaring various songs from the numerous ‘Official World Cup Albums’; some were warming up their lungs/Vuvuzelas but most were just drinking and having a jol. Being just around the corner from the heart of Soweto, it was no surprise to find rows of informal stalls selling all forms of unofficial supporter merchandise (badges, wrist bands, bandanas, flags, makarapas, etc), and I managed to replace my Vuvuzela. The familiar aroma of Joburg street food (Vetkoeks, koeksisters, quarters, pap ‘n’ vleis, boebotie, mageu) filled the air along with the dust being kicked up as people swarmed around the stalls looking for a meal to soak up the copious amounts of alcohol they’d consumed or simply after a taste of the local/traditional cuisine.

Having arrived early, my lighty and I had plenty of time to wander around having our photos taken with randoms, whilst my parents found a way to conquer my sister’s fear of heights and locate our seats. We also took the opportunity to take in the impressive 94,000 seat stadium from every possible angle. Inside, the Argentines had already set up camp, painting the venue blue with club and national flags draped everywhere and, large groups of fans jumping and chanting to the rhythm of their massive drums. This was the vibe I missed from Brazil at the previous game and I now couldn’t wait for proceedings to begin.

With the likes of Messi and Tevez outstanding, Argentina duly delivered a beautiful game and a convincing victory that left them looking like favourites for the cup; we all got our money’s worth and, the performance prompted celebrations that would surely continue well into the night. My brother and I couldn’t help but sneak off from the family to join in the singing and dancing – sadly, it was short-lived as everyone was soon waiting for us in the car. Wow!!! 

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