World Cup Diary: Mandela tragedy overshadows opening
UPDATE 6.20pm: A tragic car accident has claimed the life of Nelson Mandela’s great-granddaughter in Johannesburg overnight. The 91-year-old anti-apartheid campaigner and former president will no longer attend today’s opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup.
Zenani Mandela, who turned 13 just three days ago, was killed last night while returning home from the Shakira and Black Eyed Peas concert in Johannesburg.
Two days ago every newspaper here in South Africa splashed yesterday with the excellent news that Mandela, would attend tonight’s Opening Ceremony at Soccer City, Johannesburg.
Mandela is a very frail 91 and his grandson Mandla Mandela had said this week that it would be too cold for him to attend the ceremony. He is now mourning with his family and will not attend, casting a sad shadow over what should have been a wholly joyful day.
The Aussie fans might be sadly outnumbered by German supporters ahead of Sunday night’s clash in Durban, and we all know that the Krauts hate a beer so they will probably drink us under the tables too. But there’s one mad Aussie here in South Africa who is doing his drunken darndest to defend our reputation for problem drinking. This dead-set legend passed out in the driveway of a private home in Johannesburg after the Denmark-Australia friendly, and the kindly owners woke home up in the morning, gave him a coffee, then sent him to the Australian High Commission. He got back on the squirt last Saturday at the USA-Australia friendly and was wandering around in the carpark at Ruimsig Stadium where he was robbed at knifepoint, and contacted the High Commission again to help him out. Good to see our Foreign Service isn’t having its time wasted.
Sunday’s match against Germany is looming as an exciting fashion battle with German coach Joachim Loew, the Derek Zoolander of world sport, expected to wear his black skivvy for the game. The cold winter nights here in South Africa means that Lowe, who with his striking moppish black hair looks more like a Eurovision contestant than a football coach, is tipped to get the black turtle neck out. Meanwhile Pim Verbeek’s unruly swept-over hairdo has come in for ridicule in The Guardian newspaper with columnist Amy Lawrence saying: “Verbeek could be one of those mid-life-crisis backpackers hanging around Thailand. His refusal to take out the hair clippers is becoming a national joke.”
Diego Watch, Day one: The world is waiting with bated breath for the first press conference by football’s most accomplished lunatic, Argentinian coach Diego Maradona. He might be the greatest player but his batty behaviour has not abated with his appointment to head the national team. Not only has he used 108 players in 18 months, on the day the squad was announced in Buenos Aires last month, his car knocked a photographer to the ground and ran over his leg, with Maradona shouting ”What an asshole you are” at the snapper. He also needed lip surgery in March after he was attacked by his pet dog. Distressingly he has threatened to run naked around the Obelisk in Buenos Aires if the Argies win.
Good news for bus users in South Africa – the chances of being beaten up, shot or kidnapped and held to ransom by an angry taxi driver have lessened considerably. Authorities had introduced a new fleet of shuttle buses and created a new series of routes to cope with commuter demand ahead of the World Cup. Because the buses were cutting into taxi territory, rogue elements within the taxi industry had imported hitmen from Zululand and hidden them in the townships to attack the bus drivers and passengers. A raft of attacks saw three people were killed and a bus driver’s house burned to the ground. But as of Thursday, the taxi council announced that a peace deal had been brokered and that their drivers would all agree with the new bus routes. “We all know taxi drivers have a reputation for being rude and violent,” wrote Bulelwa Dayimani in The Daily Sun. “But the Soccer World Cup has brought out the gentle side of these tough omageza (hard men)!”
It’s the hottest musical battle going around – vuvuzela versus mariachi. With every second in person in South Africa carrying a vuvuzela trumpet and blowing it once every three seconds, 24 hours a day, their first opponents, Mexico, have done the only sensible thing and flown in a contingent of mariachis. Sequinned mariachi gangs are now wandering the streets of Melrose Arch, the Mexican fan base in Jo’burg, blasting out romantic Mexican tunes backed by a brass section and an over-sized bass. There can only be one winner in this contest.
Police have seized a staggering 16,000 fake Bafana Bafana South African soccer jerseys with a street value of 9 million rand ($AU1.1 million) which were destined for sale by hawkers.
A talking goose has been discovered in a Johannesburg township. Traditional healer Anna Maluka was interviewed about the discovery this week. Mrs Maluka, 56, told the paper that the goose came up and said to her “Angihabala”, which in Zulu means “I’m not going anywhere.” “Everyone was amazed to hear the goose using its beak to speak,” she said, adding that it spoke in a man’s voice.
It’s sad to see good sportsmanship breaking out before the World Cup has even begun. But in a sign of their softness the USA team has said it has no intention of trying to psych out England’s notoriously volatile striker Wayne Rooney, who has already had a meltdown in South Africa. Rooney told a referee to “f… off” during a friendly match last weekend, and subsequently not only apologised but gave the man his jersey. Rooney was instrumental in England’s departure in 2006 – he stomped on the wedding tackle of Portugal’s Ricardo Carvalho, and was red-carded, with the Portos prevailing over the 10-man Poms. Despite this mental pedigree the Yanks have said they’re not going to try to upset Rooney, apparently they’re just here to play football.
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