After years of preparations, discussion and waiting, the 2010 FIFA World Cup is finally here and for hundreds of eager ticket holders, the opportunity to be first through the gate at Soccer City this morning was a magical moment.

The prize of first through the gate was eventually won by Hope Zindi, who was followed closely by her family.

“We are all so excited. We woke up at 5am just to make sure we would get here in time but we only left at 7 because we were singing and dancing at home. We were all so lucky as I got these tickets for my family at the last minute,” said Zindi who, along with her family, is certainly feeling the World Cup spirit. “The World Cup is inside us. We are eating, sleeping and feeling it”.

And while Zindi managed to claim first prize, there were many more right behind her.

“I am so happy – look around, South Africa is united,” said Fikile Zulu.

“I was involved in the construction of the stadium but it is so fantastic to be able to walk through the gates as one of the first fans. I really have no words. What is happening in South Africa today is unbelievable,” said Willam Mnguni who worked for one of the construction companies that built Soccer City stadium.

Some of the eager fans were surprised at how many people came to the stadium so early in the morning. “I got my ticket last year already. It is really amazing. I thought I would be here early but there are already so many people coming into the stadium. This is going to be a hell of a day, I can’t wait,” said Martin Oosthuizen.

It was not just South Africans that were eagerly waiting for the 10am opening, there were a number of Mexican fans keen to get to their seat well in time for the opening ceremony and match.

“We all flew in last Monday and it is excellent to be one of the first through the gate. This World Cup in South Africa will be brilliant. The atmosphere here is unbelievable,” said David Vargas.