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June 22, 2009

Italy vs Brazil – a Confederations Cup photo essay

I don’t know whether I am the only one to think this, but there has been such a vibe in the country since the Confederations Cup began. People smiling more and are constantly excited – we all have something we can talk about and relate to. Last night’s experience in Pretoria at the game between Italy and Brazil made me feel proud to be South African.

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One of the people I was with was a somewhat pessimistic German who expected things to be difficult and disorganised. On the contrary, the streets all had signs to the parking, the buses were ready to take us to the stadium, the entrance was smooth sailing and finding the seats simple – with help from smiling and cheerful FIFA workers the entire time.

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Of course, the vuvuzelas were out in full force, and so were some of our well-loved sportsmen. Hot swimmer Ryk Neethling came to show his support (although to which side it was unclear), as did our beloved former Springbok Captain Francois Pienaar. The Springbok team caused quite a stir when they entered the stadium too, Brian Habana looking particularly chuffed at being there. I believe President Zuma was there as well!

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Although Italy and Brazil seemed to have equal support in the crowd judging by the flags, the Brazilians certainly outshone everyone else with patches of gold all over the stadium, drumming and singing away. The excitement was almost tangible and the build up to the teams’ entrance onto the pitch was amazing to be part of! On they came to (I am convinced) the loudest welcome they have ever received – whistling, applause, screaming and of course the vuvuzelas.

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The beautiful thing about the vuvuzela is that it crosses all boundaries, from children to old folk, colour, sex, you name it! Interestingly, the crowd did not play their vuvuzelas as loudly and as constantly for this game as they did for some of the others. Perhaps people were entranced by the likes of Kaka, Robinho and Carnnavaro. How many people get the opportunity to experience Italy and Brazil in the flesh?

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The game started out high paced. Perhaps the crowd was beginning to get a bit anxious as the minutes ticked by and there were still no goals. But once they started, they didn’t seem to stop and before we knew it, Brazil was up by three goals by the end of the first half.

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Energy was high. Unfortunately, the second half wasn’t as exciting, with no more goals and the score remaining unchanged: 3-0 to Brazil. Perhaps Brazil should have saved one of their goals for this half, or even better, Italy should have started their pursuit of a goal sooner than 10 minutes before the end. Either way, the game was magic! And as for eye candy – well, does football get any sexier than Italy and Brazil?

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The journey home was as smooth as the one there, but with less energy as blowing a vuvuzela takes a lot out of you!

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