Countdown To The 2010 World Cup
South African based Manchester City fan, Mariner sent us the following.
There is huge excitement here in South Africa for the World Cup Finals.
The tournament will be held during the winter here and for those teams and supporters who are based in Durban, this is ideal.
The Durban winter approximates to a good English summer without rain. Warm during the day and pleasantly cool at night. It would be great if England get drawn to play their group matches here, as acclimatisation is easy and there is a huge English support base. Not for nothing was Natal known as 'The last outpost of the British Empire'.
Capetown at that time of year can, on occasions resemble the Western Isles on a particularly bad night, with howling gales and buckets of rain. Mancunians will feel at home and the beer and scenery is good.
Johannesburg is at 6000 feet above sea level and acclimatisation to the rarefied air can be difficult. For sides not accustomed to this the last twenty minutes can leave them gasping for breath. Decidedly cold in winter.
Pretoria - See Johannesburg - they are only 30 kilometres apart.
Port Elizabeth - The Windy City - bit of a mixture between Durban and Capetown.
All the World Cup locations have had brand new state of the art stadiums, Durban's especially being spectacular, with a huge arch spanning the pitch and traversed by a funicular type mode of transport offering great views over the town and coast. However these stadia have caused considerable controversy as each have been built in a centre were there is an existing good quality Test Match Rugby ground.
The dissenters say that money could have been saved by upgrading the already good existing grounds and the new ones will be white elephants after the tournament is over.
Here for example we have three Premier League Soccer teams all of whom are lucky to draw 5000 spectators on a good day.
The Moses Mabhida stadium hold 70,000 and will look a little forlorn with Amazulu playing there. Am afraid that I agree with this line of thought.
Personal safety will be a problem as South Africa has a shocking crime rate, especially for aggravated robbery. It is not wise to wander round any of the towns singly, but a group of four or more should be fine. Do not display camera's, cell phones or items of personal jewellery - that is asking to be mugged.
Beach front hotels can be especially dangerous when leaving as the locals will probably be watching. Having said that I have lived here since 1971 and never been attacked, but probably fifty years at sea taught me how to avoid dodgy areas.
One of the biggest worries at the moment is the poor form of the South African side 'Bafana, Bafana' (The Boys). If they had been forced to qualify they would never have made it.
Their previous coach was Carlos Quieroz and he left for Salford. Nominating as his successor the present incumbent who, having led the team to six successive defeats broke his duck last week by defeating Madagascar 1-0 in an horrendous game. Somewhat akin to England scraping through against Andorra.
The vibe is not good and they really need an easy group draw to have any chance of progressing to the knock out stages. If not, then I fear that interest and support will fall away, although teams like England, Portugal, Germany, Holland and Greece will attract good expatriate support to go along with their visiting fans.
I hope some of you guys make it out here - presently warm and sunny.
Updates will follow in due course.