A Clockwork Orange Sends Diego Back to Montevideo

By Saturday evening I decided that I was supporting whichever football team was winning.

This was after I rooted for Brazil on Friday, only to see them get wiped out by The Netherlands. Later that day, I screamed my head off for Ghana but then they were beaten by cheating Uruguay. The next day, I draped myself in an Argentinian flag and cheered for the South Americans LIVE at the Greenpoint stadium, only to see them be thumped by the Germans.

Clearly, I was backing the wrong horses here. So tonight, when the men in orange starting leading 2-1 against Uruguay, I decided I had better back them. It wasn't easy. I mean, I know Hermes' signature colour is the same revolting, tangerine hue as the Dutch team's outfits, but still… Someone needs to tell them that fair-skinned men look mildly jaundiced in orange…Plus, there are all of their fans who have to be seen in public in bright orange – a colour which should really be reserved for traffic cones and car guards on night shift. As if this isn't bad enough, Dutch fans are expected to mix their orange garb with the red, white and blue of the Dutch flag – not the best combo. One solution for fans is to simply wear the wackiest kit ever. Like this dude who was celebrating Friday afternoon's victory:

The crazy thing is that he's not even Dutch. Nope, he's about as South African as droe wors, but something inspired him to back the boys in orange and he was running around Caveau in Cape Town in his tangerine dungarees, looking might chuffed with his team's performance.

On the bright side, the Dutch team exacted revenge on Uruguay on behalf of Bafana Bafana, as well as on behalf of Ghana, so I am genuinely thrilled about that. And judging by some of the Facebook posts that I've just seen, we now have a nation in mourning. And I don't mean Uruguay – I mean a nation full of South African women who would rather not see Diego Forlan return to his homeland. One can see why. I mean, clearly, he's not just a pretty face – he can actually kick the ball into the little box quite regularly.

Sadly, though, his World Cup glory is over and he is to return to his hair-dressing business in Montevideo. At least the force behind Bafana Bafana's defeat did some good by providing SA women with some eye candy. Hell, old Diego is probably a rare exception and is possibly one of the few fair-skinned men on the planet who could look good in orange…

Sangoma Dilemma

When Bafana Bafana scored their first goal against France on Tuesday, I – along with the rest of the Melrose Arch fan park – nearly went mental. When they scored their second goal, I didn't even mind that the fan next to me practically emptied his beer can on my head while he was busy going mental. When they scored their third goal, I went completely mental (in my defence, I wasn't the only one), but obviously that was a false alarm because it was actually a replay. At least, that's what my fellow football expert friend and I thought. We later learned the truth – something about off-sides (how anal can you get?) – and no third goal after all. Boohoo. Anyway, Bafana Bafana were leading 2 goals to 0. How unbelievable?

After the first two beauties, I had absolutely no doubt that our boys would score a third, maybe even a fourth? But when France scored to make things 2-1, I started panicking. Not so much because I thought France would beat us with their 10 man team, but because a certain sangoma's prediction was coming true… On Tuesday morning, SA news channels reported that a sangoma from Khayelitsha had been visited by the ancestors and that the ancestors had told him SA would beat France 2-1.

By the time the whistle blew – confirming my fear that the next Nostradamus was busy throwing bones on the Cape Flats – I was properly freaked out. It felt like the basis of my entire world view was collapsing around me. If Sammy the Sangoma was the only person in the country who honestly thought that Bafana Bafana would give France a whipping after the Uruguay debacle, then did that mean that all the crystal collecting, incense burning, astrology believing, spiritual advising, witch-doctoring, fortune-telling, numerology nut-cases had a point? 

Holy sh*tsville.

Perhaps I should be on the first plane to Khayelitsha? And then Sammy could consult his bones and/or his forefathers and could tell me whether I would ever weigh 55 kilos? Or did I really want to know…

Scary sh*t!

After a sleepless night, I spent yesterday morning googling the sangoma and his prediction. And I couldn't find any news reports like the one I'd heard on the radio. I did however, find another prediction by another Khayelitsha sangoma, one "Benjamin Zimema". He had declared that Bafana Bafana would beat France (which I think is prophetic in and of itself, actually) BUT he predicted that we'd win 2-0. So he was not the Nostrodamus who was going to put me out of my dieting misery. Where was the real sangoma who could really see into the future? Maybe he'd asked IOL to remove all references to him in their news reports because he was being inundated with calls from prospective clients like myself?

I was beginning to believe that this was the case, because I really could not find this very current, very topical news article on the net. But I was determined not to give up that easily, so I broadened my search criteria and started looking lower and lower down the Google listings.

And then I found a link to a worldnews.com article from 2 June 2010, in which a Cape Town sangoma predicted that "Bafana Bafana would make it to the World Cup semi-finals".

Er, not so prophetic. Just very, very optimistic.

Ten points for sangoma patriotism, but zero points for clairvoyance.

What a relief! I can now re-inhabit the mind of the skeptical self that I know and love.

And yes, that would be the same skeptical self that thought our boys didn't honestly stand a chance against the Frenchies. Thanks for proving me wrong, guys – you ROCKED on Tuesday! Viva vuvuzelas, Bafana Bafana and all of us fans!


Not So ‘eish’, After All

I have only recently become a football expert – it happened last week, to be precise. So I sort of forgive myself for thinking that Bafana's 3-0 loss to Uruguay was an embarrassing score. Not at all, as it turns out. 3-0 is completely respectable. Mild, even, as far as defeats go.

Ask North Korea. They just got bamboozled by Portugal: 7 goals to sweet, diddly squat. That's right – 7 whopping goals to absolutely jack all. Our 3-0 score is child's play in comparison. The Uruguayans and their Alice-Band Barbie, Diego Forlan, should be ashamed of themselves. Plus, I've just learned that in the 1970 World Cup, Uruguay beat Israel 7 goals to nil, so clearly their performance has been slipping in recent decades.

As the lowest ranked team in this World Cup, North Korea entered the competition cautiously. So cautiously, in fact, that the government decided not to air the team's first match against Brazil on live television. Instead, the match was broadcast as a recording, after the authorities deemed that their team's 1-2 loss, was fit for national viewing. However, after the team's heady, near-win in that first game, the North Korean government threw caution to the wind and aired today's match…LIVE.


In conclusion, though, not so eish for Bafana Bafana, who can regain some confidence after the annihilation of their fellow under-dogs, and who will hopefully not be tripping up any Frenchies tomorrow. The only red we wanna see tomorrow is the red face-paint on the top of our flag!

Written by: Natalie, Football Analyst (Seriously, this occupation exists in SA – they had one on E-News this evening – and who said the World Cup wasn't about sustainable job creation?)

Waka Waka, World Cup Soccer!

Thanks to The Husband’s cycling obsession, the two of us were running around the French Alps last week, while absolutely EVERYONE here in Jozi was taking joyrides on the Gautrain, getting inspired by Alicia Keys and waka waka-ing or vuvuzela-ing at the opening match. So unfair!
I was trying to get vicariously fired up for the World Cup through people’s Facebook posts, but it just wasn’t the same.

Even when I landed at OR Tambo on Wednesday and everyone was talking about the calabash and R Kelly and the Jabulani and I was totally lost. (R Kelly came to SA and no-one told me?)

But when the World Cup fever bit later that day, it bit badly! I was on my way to meet friends so that we could all head to Loftus for the SA-Uruguay game. I’d heard that Shakira would be performing the World Cup theme song, but I hadn’t heard the actual song yet. So when Waka Waka started playing on my car radio, it felt like the 2010 Football Fever Gods were playing it just for me! I completely confess to snivelling and drivelling to the lines: “it’s time for Africa”. (Can't you just hear them in your head, right now?) Like I said, the fever really bit!

The Waka Waka song was such a great build-up to the match itself and everything surrounding the match. An historic affair for SA, of course, but also an historic affair for yours truly, since I have never in my life-time watched an entire soccer match from start to finish. What an experience all 'round! Hatfield’s student drag was absolutely PUMPING with spectators from as early as 4pm. The street, the bars, the car parks, EVERYWHERE was jam-packed with supporters. Random strangers offered us their excess SA flag tattoos which we plastered on our cheeks, before we covered ourselves in hats, scarves and body paints. I never thought I’d say this about a chain food establishment but even dinner at Nando’s was a jol – everyone in the place was decked out in SA garb, people were slapping each other on the back, high-fiving, low-fiving and just generally LOVING life. I don’t think I’ve felt this much of a vibe amongst complete strangers since Matric New Year’s on Plett beach. It totally rocked!

The atmosphere in the stadium was even more electric. People were going mental on their vuvuzela’s, dancing, singing and basically going wild. And somehow it all seemed "normal".

Admittedly, Itumeleng Khune’s red card was tragic. Beyond tragic. It almost seemed surreal that he’d been sent off – in fact, some people around us thought that the replacement goalie was actually Khune back from a trip to the bog. Our group tried to empathise with these morons, “Yes, VERY confusing when they’re both wearing those exact same red outfits, right?” (Secretly, I was delighted at their blunder since I didn’t know it was possible for someone on this planet to have a worse understanding of soccer than myself).

So yes, Bafana Bafana got decidedly walloped by Uruguay. But here’s what I say: at least our boys don’t wear alice-bands and lie on the floor and cry like babies from a bit of a shin bump. What a bunch of girls!
And of course the ref was just ABSOLUTELY useless (yes, I am an expert now). I couldn’t have put it better than the writers put it on Hayibo.com: "Bafana Uruguay Referee Spends Night Sleeping With One Eye Open”

Do yourself a favour and check out the article – it’s hilarious.
Looking forward to a rocking World Cup weekend!

Bafana Gabbana

I can’t believe its Friday again. Fridays seem to come around so quickly when you’re sabbatical – it’s amazing. Anyway, so it’s Friday and every Friday I’m reminded of the fact that I still don’t own a Bafana Bafana T-shirt. We’re at the airport this morning to fly to Cape Town for a wedding and World Cup fever is everywhere. I’m sitting at Vida and I’ve just seen an American tourist accost a cleaner to find out where he got his yellow T-shirt.  It’s like: screw my NYU sweatshirt, dude – where’s the “Baffanna Baffanna” gear?

Admittedly I’ve just realized that about 20% of the so-called Bafana Bafana shirts I’ve seen around are actually “Brazil” shirts. You have to take your hat off to the Brazilians for turning a bright yellow and green sports top into an international fashion statement. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do the same with Bafana Bafana gear? After all, there’s now a famous British rock band named after Kaizer Chiefs. Why can’t Bafana Bafana turn into the next Dolce & Gabbana? Ha ha. Sounds pretty hilarious when you put it like that but who would’ve though that you could slap the Brazilian name “Havaianas” onto a pair of plakkies and turn those into the high fashion footwear? And then Giselle Bunchen thought to herself, why don’t I do exactly the same thing but I’ll just call my plakkies after the Rio’s sexiest beach and before we know it, Brazilian football tops, Havaianas and Ipanemas are must-have fashion items.

But back to Bafana fever.

Whether Bafana shirts will ever rival Brazil shirts or not, right now you’re out if you’re not wearing yours on Friday. Which is pretty amazing considering that the national soccer team used to be the butt of jokes just 6 months ago. Towards the end of last year, when the newspapers were reporting that concerned international teams wanted to play their World Cup matches in bullet proof vests, several people posted comments about this on Facebook. These comments illicited a rather witty response from one Facebook friend-of-a-friend who wrote: “Ja, and it’s not as though Bafoona Bafoona are any good at shooting”.

I found that very funny at the time, but no-one’s laughing now. Everyone’s talking about how Bafana walloped Thailand and hoping that it’s a sign of things to come. I think the World Cup and our national team are presenting us with a new kind of opportunity at 21st century patriotism. Under democracy is no longer “sweet and fitting to die for one’s country” as Wilfed Owen once wrote. Instead, it is sweet and fitting to tie Saffer flags to your rear view mirrors and to strut around in your Bafana Bafana shirt on Friday – as though it’s a Dolce & Gabbana.