Reuters Soccer Blog

from Africa News blog:

Searching for it — not quite feeling it — in Polokwane

June 18, 2010
Searching for it -- not quite feeling it -- in Polokwane The fan fest sounded like a wild party with the vuvuzela horns booming through the empty streets of Polokwane town, one of the smallest of 10 venues for the first World Cup on African soil. Everyone must be there, we thought as there was little going on for a Saturday night in the northern South African town. Even the local Nandos restaurant on the main street shut by 8 p.m. But on closer inspection the soccer fan fest -- loud as it was -- was also pretty deserted. Soccer fever has yet to reach Polokwane. A sleepy town of just 500,000 people, it was hard to imagine Polokwane, which means place of safety, would host its first World Cup soccer match in less than 24 hours. In Johannesburg or Cape Town you could definitely "feel it". Here we weren't so sure. Driving through the town's eerily deserted streets searching for a restaurant where we could eat and watch the soccer, we discovered that was not an easy find. It was also hard to imagine what long-term benefit the town would see from being a host city. While for the four matches to be played in Polokwane the few hotels on offer for tourists were full, in between there were plenty of rooms at the inn. No team was staying nearby which would bring with it the paraphenalia of adoring fans or news-hungry media and the associated business. Those playing were flown in for pre-match training, again the day of the match and ferried back straight after. Police closed down the roads near the stadium on the edge of town the night before. But those fearing traffic similar to the four-hour long queues witnessed in Johannesburg trying to get to Soocer City need not have bothered. The streets were empty, the car parks empty and -- just 30 minutes before kick-off -- the stadium was half empty. By the second half, the stands were just about three-quarters full, though the blasts of the vuvuzelas compensated for the missing supporters. The Peter Mokaba stadium almost looked like they hadn't had time to finish painting it, with the stark grey concrete of the outer wall in direct contrast with Soccer City in Johannesburg's brightly coloured exterior. The inside was still coated in construction dust and most of the refreshment stands remained shuttered and closed during the match. Just two hours after the players left we found ourselves the lone figures in a dark stadium struggling to see the keyboard as we tapped out the finishing touches to our stories. Even the name of the stadium was controversial. Mokaba was the African National Congress (ANC)'s youth league leader who, like his current counterpart Julius Malema, was fond of the phrase "Kill The Boer," which upset many Afrikaners. Ironically there's not even a local soccer team to make use of the sparkling pitch. Residents said the Rai Stars disbanded long ago and the nearby promising Black Leopards team are based more than 150 kilometres away in a less than World Cup standard stadium. <http://www.blackleopardsfc.com/10_stadium_info.htm> The Dynamos train 100 kilometres away. Neither team play in the country's top league. "You can't help thinking this huge stadium will just be derelict and empty in a few years time," said one hotel worker.

Polokwane StadiumThe soccer fan fest sounded like a wild party with the vuvuzela horns booming through the empty streets of Polokwane town, one of the smallest of 10 venues for the first World Cup on African soil.

World Cup podcast – day 6

June 16, 2010

Join us for our latest look at the goings-on at the World Cup on the day we finally see tournament favourites Spain in action. Kevin Fylan hosts, and is joined by Paul Radford, Mike Collett, Ossian Shine, Andy Cawthorne and Owen Wyatt.

Ball not to blame for goalkeeping howlers

June 15, 2010


The standard of goalkeeping in the early stages of this World Cup has not been the best but blame cannot lie with the controversial Jabulani ball.

Reuters World Cup podcast – day 4

June 14, 2010

Join us for a late, late podcast from day four at the World Cup in South Africa … a frank look at some of the not so fantastic games we had today and a preview of Brazil v North Korea. Mark Gleeson, Theo Ruizennar, Pete Rutherford and Brian Homewood are the night’s victims.

A rare bright moment for North Koreans

By Reuters Staff
June 14, 2010

SOCCER-WORLD/By Jon Herskovitz

Soccer is subversive in North Korea. The North Korean authorities, who try their best to keep the masses in the dark about what goes on in the rest of the world, cannot suppress news about soccer.

‘You call this noise? What is a million vuvuzelas?’

By Reuters Staff
June 13, 2010

SOCCER-WORLD/By Ruona Agbroko

If it hadn’t been for Nigeria’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, the 1-0 defeat to Argentina could have been much worse for the African side. That is one reason why the Nigerian supporter contingent, even if outnumbered by the Argentinian fans, remained upbeat throught the match.

Maradona gets one over on England again

June 13, 2010

SOCCER-WORLD/Argentina and England have one of the great soccer rivalries and although they were not playing each other on Saturday Argentina still managed to score a psychological victory over their old foes.

World Cup 2010 podcast – day 1

June 11, 2010

Join us for our podcast on day one of the first African World Cup, as hosts South Africa prepare to test their growing confidence against unpredictable Mexico in front of 90,000 vuvuzela-blaring fans in Soccer City.

World Cup 2010 podcast 1

June 8, 2010

Check out our first, slightly low-tech podcast featuring assorted Reuters football stattos Paul Radford, Mike Collett, Brian Homewood and the voice of African football, Mark Gleeson.

Drogba, Ferdinand…who next for the World Cup curse?

June 4, 2010

A top player seems to get injured on the eve of every major tournament and this year it looks like Didier Drogba and Rio Ferdinand have suffered the World Cup curse.