By Rebecca Emiru, South Africa (TsehaiNY.com) – The World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world, is less than a day away and the question that has been hanging in the air for the past few months is: Are you ready?
The question started a year ago with concerns over whether South Africa was logistically prepared to welcome millions of soccer fans in its hotels, guesthouses, on its highways, roads, and alleyways, and in its stadiums and parks.
As the countdown shortened from months to weeks, the focus turned to Bafana Bafana (a term of endearment literally translated to “the boys, the boys”) and their fans wondered if the team was ready to compete against the top football teams in the world. Ranking a solid 83rd place as of May 2010 on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, South Africa’s national football team is the undeniable underdog in its opening game against Mexico. Additionally, South Africa and Mexico will be joined by two former World Cup champions Uruguay (in 1930 and 1950) and France (in 1998) in Group A. In the past few weeks of friendly matches however, the players have shown the extent of their preparation.
As the weeks shorten into days, and the days become hours, the question is turned back on the fans who ask: “Are you ready to witness the first World Cup on African soil?”
Fans everywhere are preparing for the big event. In Almost every single commercial establishment flags are hung from the ceiling and these omnipresent streamers with miniatures of the competing nations’ colors flutter in the ever-present Cape Town wind like Tibetan prayer flags. There are at least three or four enterprising men found at every major “robot” (what South Africans call traffic lights) selling tiny flags (mostly South African) for people to fly from their cars or tie around their side view mirrors. But beyond the material shows of pride, there is an intangible energy in the air. Two or three trumpeting vuvuzelas erupt in the distance in celebration; a car zooming by blasts music and mingled with the unnecessarily loud, license-plate rattling bass is K’Naan singing Just Like a Waving Flag.
The fans answer, “Yes, we are ready!”
Rebecca Emiru Reporting from South Africa