African fans gear up for ticket rush
© AFP

With less than six months before the world’s full gaze turns to Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, there is an air of expectancy and excitement among South Africans and Africans alike as they prepare to host what has been fondly referred to as the “biggest party of them all.”

While the on-going CAF Africa Cup of Nations has already offered plenty of excitement, the continent’s mind is never far removed from preparations for June’s FIFA World Cup. And, with just over a week to the deadline of the third and most important ticketing phase, more Africans are expected to book their tickets to what will undoubtedly be among the continent’s proudest moments. 

A seat at history's table
Nelson Baloyi, 31, from Johannesburg, which is the host city for both the opening match and the final, is one who has already applied for his ticket. He says he is excited about the possibility of rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s most decorated stars when they descend on the tip of the African continent.

“As a South African and an African, I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Most of us love football, and I think in our minds, we all wanted to be football stars, but we never got to be,” Baloyi explains with a grin. “However, this is still an opportunity for us to be part of a great and proud moment for Africa, and we will be able to tell this story for the next 20 years.”

He is just one of thousands who have applied for their ticket to history as the Rainbow Nation braces itself for its biggest moment in the galaxy of world sport, and he plans to encourage his friends to explore the third phase of ticketing and apply for FIFA World Cup tickets. 

So many inviting matches
Of course, one of the great challenges is deciding which teams to see in the opening stage. While Nelson is an unapologetic and staunch supporter of Bafana Bafana, the South African national side, he claims to also have a soft spot for Brazil and Portugal, both of whom will meet in Group G. But he says he would like to see promising Côte d'Ivoire, much of continent’s ‘second team,’ advance to the knockout stages from that group, meaning they would have to beat one of his two favourite teams.

It’s a tough situation, but one that he’s happy to navigate. “The most obvious thing is that I will be supporting Bafana Bafana. They are my number one team,” he said. “Then I like the Brazilian samba and the way Portugal play. But as an African, I will be rooting for all the African teams.

“But the most important thing for Africans will be to go to stadiums in numbers and outnumber the visiting supporters. We, as Africans, need to buy as many tickets as possible to ensure that our teams receive all the support they need. If we really want to have home advantage, I believe we should go all out and back our boys,” he said.

Baloyi fancies an African team to reach the semi-finals this summer, and 'from there anything can happen.'

The third phase of ticketing closes on 22 January, and tickets are still available for people to apply via FIFA.com. South African residents can also apply at FNB branches across the country.