Field of dreams
In 1959, when the gates of Orlando Stadium first opened and the grounds became the official home of the Johannesburg Bantu Football Association, few would have guessed that 50 years later the Brazilian national team would be training on that very same pitch.
An icon of sport and the struggle for freedom, Orlando Stadium holds a special place in the annals of South African history. It has launched many notable soccer careers, housed major football clubs such as Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows and hosted countless Soweto derbys - the highly anticipated clash of the season in which Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates go head to head.
Only a month after the stadium's 50th birthday, Orlando continues to make its mark in history as evidenced by the fact that a bus bearing a prominent "Brazil" sticker sits outside the stadium's player's entrance.
Gearing up for their 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final clash against South Africa, the Brazilians took on the Kaizer Chiefs under-17 side in a practise match.
With some of the world's best football nations visiting the country for the tournament, South Africans have benefitted from unique opportunities to engage with international stars outside of attending matches - even bringing the South American kings of soccer directly to the people at a stadium that holds so much importance for not only Soweto but South Africa.
Sitting on the sidelines, the under-17 coach and South African football legend Doctor Khumalo reflected upon what Orlando Stadium means to him.
"I remember coming here when I was around 11 or 12 years old. I would accompany my father to the stadium when he worked as assistant coach for Kaizer Chiefs. In those days I was one of the naughty boys, so I never thought I would play here. But eventually I made the first team.
"I first played in Orlando Stadium in 1987. It was a league match against Pirates. I wasn't nervous about playing Pirates, we had played them before in Ellis Park but this was the first time I would play in the Derby, in the township. The crowd was always big when you played in the township - and that made me a little bit nervous."
Back in 1987 Orlando Stadium could seat 24,000 people. Today, the newly revamped venue, with its contemporary steel design can accommodate a crowd of 40,000. Towering over Orlando East and Mzimhlophe the stadium boasts a host of world-class facilities including a 200-seater auditorium, a conference centre, a gymnasium and 120 hospitality suites.
"Today Orlando Stadium is an international stadium. Just look at the lights, the pitch, the stands - everything has changed," says Khumalo who is also a 2010 FIFA World Cup ambassador.
On the pitch, Khumalo's boys are faring well against the Brazilians. "This is a great opportunity for the boys - an opportunity of a lifetime. This never happened in my time. But now because of the Confederations Cup we have Brazil right here.
"I don't think people know how important this day is. These boys grow up admiring guys like Pato and now here they are playing right alongside him. Dreams have come true here at Orlando today. Lives have been changed."
As the final whistle blows marking the end of the training session, the under-17's make their way off the field, patting each other on the back. The pride is tangible. They pose for a photo with the Brazilians in a moment that forever seals an unforgettable day at Orlando Stadium, yet another anecdote for the historians.