All smiles as fans book seats
© AFP

For over 18 hours, Faizel Kotwal waited, with his blanket and vuvuzela in hand, outside the Sandton Ticketing Centre for the over-the-counter ticket sales to start in South Africa today.

As he emerged out of the Centre just after 9am with his ticket in hand, he was overjoyed. He bought 10 tickets for himself – one for the opening game at Soccer City on 11 July.

Kotwal, who hails from Piet Retief, drove for about four hours to get to Johannesburg to purchase the ticket and he had to drive the same distance back home. He was at the 1990 FIFA World Cup™ in Italy, but he believes that this one is special for him.

“I have been at the World Cup and I know the atmosphere there. I want to relieve those moments. However, I believe this one is going to be special as it’s in my country. My family is crazy about football and I have been queuing for these tickets with my sons since yesterday (Wednesday),” he told FIFA.com minutes after he had purchased his tickets.

Football fans within the host country came in droves from all corners of South Africa, spent hours, some in  overnight queues and had to endure the scorching morning conditions, but they never stopped singing and blowing their vuvuzelas.

I can’t believe I’m one of the guys who will watch the final and the opening game. I’m so happy now it’s not really possible to explain in words.
South African fan Mohamed Dadebhay

As the over-the-counter ticket sales got underway in South Africa today, thousands of football fans took advantage of this fifth and last minute ticket sales at the 11 Ticketing Centres and 600 FNB branches across the host country at 9am (CAT) today.

Mohamed Dadebhay, who was the first fan to purchase a ticket at the Sandton Ticketing Centre, had been camping at the venue since 1pm yesterday. In the early hours of Thursday morning, he was still with a group of his friends, with a duvet in hand and sounding jovial. Just after 9am, he got his ticket for the Final at Soccer City. “I can’t believe I’m one of the guys who will watch the final and the opening game. I’m so happy now it’s not really possible to explain in words,” he said, as he smiled for the dozens of TV cameras and journalists, all eager to speak to a man who might as well have made a small piece of history for himself.

Another fan, Ryan Joubert was also excited to get his ticket. “I wanted to buy a ticket for the final, but I couldn’t get one. However, I’m happy with what I have. I thought if I came early in the morning, I would increase my chances, but I understand that there was a huge demand for the final. I’m looking forward to supporting Bafana Bafana at the tournament,” Joubert said.

A total of 1610 tickets were sold to 310 customers nationally at the Ticketing Centres within the first hour after they opened at 9am this morning, with 2166 tickets also sold to 470 fans at FNB branches.

The online sales at FIFA.com kicked off at 18h00 (CAT).