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FIFA World Cup Report – Denmark v. Japan PDF
Saturday, 26 June 2010 00:00

from Carolyn Emmett, Montejaque's correspondent in South Africa

Denmark v. Japan in Rustenburg, June 24th at 8:30 p.m.

This is the last World Cup game for which I had tickets, and the first game where there was a pretty good chance we were on the TV ...  but more of that later.

I need to ‘set the scene’, as this was our return to Rustenburg after the disorganised park-and-ride-and-try-to-find-the-bus-afterwards experience at the England vs. USA game on June 12th. By leaving home at 3:30 p.m. and deciding not to break the journey this time, we arrived in Rustenburg at 5:15 p.m. – i.e. in one hour 45 mins. instead of the four-hours-from-Hartebeesport misery of before! So we decided to have dinner in the local shopping mall, as we didn’t want to arrive at the stadium three hours early and have to buy expensive chilli dogs to satisfy our hunger pangs.

The Italy vs. Slovakia game was being televised in the restaurant, and all the diners seemed to be cheering for Slovakia (as we were, having been disgusted at Cannavaro’s Oscar-nominated performance in Italy’s game against New Zealand, where he got a tiny shove in the chest and fell down clutching his face, earning a booking for perpetrator Rory Fallon. And, when Best Supporting Actor nominee Daniele de Rossi went down in the box after the slightest of shirt pulls – for which Italy was awarded a penalty kick that tied up the game – we really didn’t like the Italians). My Italian girlfriend Anna was so ashamed of/dismayed by her compatriots’ behaviour that she was tempted to take all the flags and stickers off her car; now they’re out of the Cup, she’s backing the Netherlands. Mind you, Slovakia is playing the Netherlands on Monday, and – much as I love the Netherlands, too – Slovakia is probably riding high, after winning by three goals to two, to put World-Cup-defending champs Italy out of the rest of the tournament.

(For those of you who thought I was going to the games just for the atmosphere, can you tell I’m now actually getting hooked on the games themselves?!)

After a great seafood dinner, we drove to the park-and-ride facility, opting  for one of the other three car parks, even tho' we now knew where the R104 buses would probably be parked! We found the Phokeng East (blue) car park, and decided this was going to be a lot easier to ask for when we left the stadium. “Where’s the Phokeng blue car park, then?” (We practised saying this a lot). Hats off this time to the Rustenburg organisers; on arrival, we were given a piece of paper, reading as follows:

Welcome to the Rustenburg Royal Bafokeng Stadium

You are now at Phokeng East

Please familiarise yourself with the area and where you found your shuttle.

Parking areas and shuttles are marked with the same colour as this leaflet.

Whatever you do, DO NOT LOSE THIS LEAFLET. (What? Why? Will something happen to me if I do?)

Make use of the same drop-off/pick-up point after the match and use your colour-coded leaflet to identify your matching colour-coded shuttle to take you back to the parking area.

Ask an Official / Volunteer / Security or Police Officer if you are in any doubt. (Yeah, yeah, we did that last time, and got sent five km. in the wrong direction).

Alcohol and fires are not permitted within the parking areas. (However, fires started WITH alcohol are).

We greet and welcome you with warm Rustenburg hospitality and wish you a safe and pleasant experience.

Actually, we had a VERY safe and pleasant experience: five minutes to board the shuttle, five minutes’ drive to the stadium, five minutes to get inside, five minutes to get beer, and only five hundred metres to the nearest ladies’ toilet (which I discovered were at a ratio of about 4 to 1 to the men’s); I passed the sign for the men’s toilet on my left, and assumed the ladies’ was next on the left, as it was in all the other stadia – so I wandered in (thrilled there was no queue), to find a number of men standing at urinals. Backing out hurriedly, I walked on to the next set of toilets ... to discover these also had a ‘standing man’ sign, not a ‘be-skirted lady’. Damn.

Our seats for Denmark vs. Japan were the best we’ve had so far, and still cost only 14 euros each. We were non-partisans in this game: we have lovely friends who live in Copenhagen, and my sister-in-law is Japanese. So I painted Matthew’s and Saurabh’s faces with the Japanese flag on one cheek and the Danish flag on the other.

Now for the ‘we might have been on telly’ part. First of all, we spotted a white guy wearing only two things: a black plastic ‘Samurai’ wig and a Sumo-wrestling loincloth. (Bit chilly for that, actually, although Saurabh talked to him and found he was from northern Alberta – Canada – where the usual temperature there probably equals that of Rustenburg on a South African winter’s evening)! This chap was cavorting around our seats, and was a huge hit with all the fans AND the TV cameras. A Rustenburg police officer decided, however, that it was ‘indecent exposure’,  covered him up with a blanket and escorted him away ... probably just before we were about to appear on TV next to him.

Our next telly moment came when the teams were on the field for the playing of the national anthems. We were sitting only three rows back on the second tier, and at the front of this tier was the most ENORMOUS Japanese flag, covered in signatures on the white background, with the red rising sun in the middle. As the anthem began, the flag was pulled up and over the crowd; it must have been at least 30 metres long and, I think, covered the entire section of the stadium. I’m not sure, since we were underneath it! We’d love to see a replay of the unfurling, to see if we can spot ourselves in what would have been the very bottom left-hand corner of the flag.

The game was great, and Japan played very well – sorry, my Danish friends, but they were the better team on the night. We left the stadium just as the game went into extra time, and were back at the Phokeng car park 10 minutes later ... and home by 12:20 a.m. All in all, it was a good ‘last game’ experience, particularly for Matthew and Saurabh. Of the six games they attended, seven of the teams we saw ‘live’ qualified for the next round: Argentina, England, Japan, Portugal, South Korea, Spain and the USA.

© Carolyn Emmett


Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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