Hordes of sup­port­ers head for sta­di­ums

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - MELANIE PETERS

BRIGHT shirts, scarves and hats, painted faces and a va­ri­ety of noise­mak­ers dis­tin­guish the thou­sands of in­ter­na­tional soc­cer fans de­scend­ing on our sta­di­ums over the next month.

The Bafana Bafana Fan Club was launched in Jo­han­nes­burg last month and al­ready has 588 000 mem­bers. These fans will be spot­ted in the stands and fan parks wear­ing over-sized sun­glasses and in­ge­nious makara­pas, and blow­ing vu­vuze­las.

Ger­man author Niko­laus Eberl founded the club. “Clubs like this are im­per­a­tive to win­ning the cup. It’s all about the law of at­trac­tion. When a win­ning at­ti­tude and a never-say-die be­lief pen­e­trates the team, any­thing is pos­si­ble.”

Eberl, who has lived in South Africa for 16 years and is mar­ried to a South African, said if Bafana Bafana did not make it through to the sec­ond round, “I’ll walk from Cape Town to Cairo”.

While Shosholoza was a pop­u­lar song, the club planned to sing two new songs, but he de­clined to give de­tails. “It’s a sur­prise.”

Out­side South Africa most tick­ets were sold to the US – Amer­i­cans snapped up more than 100 000 tick­ets to the tour­na­ment. Their fan club is called “Sam’s Army”.

It was launched af­ter the 1994 World Cup and has 15 000 mem­bers. Its web­site says the group is known for ap­pear­ing en masse wear­ing red and chant­ing: “USA! USA! USA!” They also dis­play huge Amer­i­can flags and banners, and stand through­out each match. They carry horns, drums and mu­si­cal in­stru­ments. They have been known to toss smoke bombs, but this has been dis­cour­aged.

The US em­bassy’s Nate Holt said it was an un­of­fi­cial sup­port club. “We’re very en­thu­si­as­tic about the event and we hope to meet Bafana Bafana in the fi­nals.”

The Dutch fan club – Sup­port­er­sclub Oranje – have promised to stand out as a sea of orange in sup­port of their team, Oranje. There are about 25 000 Dutch pass­port hold­ers liv­ing in Cape Town, and 5 000 have tick­ets to matches.

Their tour bus has been spot­ted in South Africa bear­ing the warn- ing slo­gan: “Don’t fear the big five – fear the Orange 11.”

Nether­lands con­sul-gen­eral David de Waal said Oranje fans usu­ally got into the party mood hours be­fore a game. They also have their own or­ches­tra. “We have also cre­ated vu­vuzela stop­pers – a pair of orange ear muffs in the shape of Africa. There are 800 fans fol­low­ing the team around the coun­try,” he said.

Save­rio Talotti, a mem­ber of the Ital­ian Club, said many of the fans painted their faces green, white and red. But wear­ing az­zurri (blue) was very im­por­tant, as was fly­ing the coun­try’s flag. “Fans usu­ally sing ‘olé, olé’ and the Ital­ian an­them. A lot of fans will be com­ing from Italy, the Congo, Jo­han­nes­burg and Port El­iz­a­beth. If they do not have tick­ets for the sta­dium they’ll watch the matches at Ital­ian clubs and restau­rants.”

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