23 June 2010
“Bafana Bafana are out of the World Cup, but they won the hearts and minds of all South Africans and the whole world tonight.” Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan summed it up after Tuesday’s match in Mangaung/Bloemfontein, where the national team beat France but failed to qualify for the last 16 of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
“Yes they did not make it past the group stage, but they did what the country asked of them – they played with pride, passion, skill and commitment, they gave their best,” Jordaan said.
“They did the national team jersey and every single South African proud, and we want to thank them for what they’ve done for this country.”
The atmosphere in the stadium was electric – the vuvuzelas blared and the fans sang and danced from start to finish, leaving a watching world in no doubt about the passion of the South African fans, who supported their team until the bitter end.
Siphiwe Tshabalala, who scored the very first goal of the tournament during the opening match at Soccer City, thanked the fans for their support during the tournament. “Even though we didn’t qualify, we just want to thank them for their support and for finishing on a high.
“For me it was a dream come true to play in the World Cup, and I’m happy I have achieved that, not only for us soccer players, but for the nation as a whole,” Tshabalala said.
His teammate, Siboniso Gaxa, urged South Africans to continue supporting the tournament.
“It’s the first time that South Africa is united like this,” Gaxa said. “Football has brought South African people together, which is amazing. I want to thank them – I’m very grateful that we’re surrounded by such people, and to everyone who has been supporting us, thank you very much, and I hope you’ll keep on supporting the World Cup.”
There seems little doubt that they will. Even though that is the last the 2010 Fifa World Cup will see of Bafana Bafana, it is certainly not the last it will see of South Africans. Among the fans this is still very much South Africa’s World Cup.
“I am excited after that match, it’s a good result,” Lesiba Siebola from Limpopo province said after the game. “I am very proud of South Africa, this is good preparation for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012.
“And the World Cup is certainly not over, there are still many more matches, many more people to meet and many more stars to see,” said Siebola who is now heading to Johannesburg to watch Germany play Ghana at Soccer City on Wednesday night.
“Of course I will be celebrating tonight, South Africa have beaten France who are previous World Cup winners,” said local resident Crosby Nyangintsimbi. “Yes we are out, but this is a football, not a war, and we will go out and enjoy tonight with the French and all the other fans who are here in our city.”
For Johannesburg resident Trevor Bapiste, the World Cup is just beginning. “It’s now time to support South Africa. We’re still the host nation and we’re just going to go from here and support our favourite teams and enjoy the amazing experience.”
Bapiste is looking forward to his next game which is a round of 16 encounter. “I think we’re in for a very interesting quarter-final and semi-final stage – there’s been so many upsets – you can’t even say who’s going to get through.”