by Kalusha Bwalya
I played in Mexico and have been in the Azteca Stadium when it is full so I know loud crowds, but Soccer City is one of the most fantastic stadiums in the world no doubt. Africa had waited a long time, since 2004 when FIFA made their announcement at least, you know for the first kick, so the people and the introduction and opening ceremony were breathtaking. It signified everything that is good about African football, and how far we’ve come from the 70s and 80s. Then we had to fight to get exposure, but look at them today. We have gained respect for our players, and Africa also has the best football followers in the world. We do it differently with our colours and drums and vuvuzelas, and our supporters have always been that way.
So it was fitting that the world’s biggest game and show were here to show how good they are. Because of the atmosphere it took a while for the teams to settle, especially the home team. But it was the most important tournament of their lives, so you could definitely feel the weight of the crowd. Plus Mexico are a good team, but after 10 or 15 minutes they settled, and I think in the second half Bafana played more how they should - more open and with more pace. The goal they scored was a fantastic goal to open the World Cup with, and they could have scored more. If those had gone in, it might have been different, but you always knew Mexico would come back. But in the end I think both sides were happy with a draw and it was a fitting result. I think South Africa proved they can play against very good teams and really compete at an even level.