The crowd hushed as Tshepo Bulu stepped up to take his penalty for Kaizer Chiefs. He placed the ball, picked his spot and…GOAL!
As the ball sailed into the net, more than 30 000 Chiefs fanatics exploded into screaming, chanting and vuvuzela-blowing fits of jubilation, their boys having defeated bitter rivals Orlando Pirates 3 – 0 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out at a packed Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday.
It was a fittingly loud end to what had been a fascinating Soweto derby between the two most popular teams in South Africa.
There’s just something about the sound that more than 50 000 soccer fans make. It’s loud, and it’s oh so passionate.
With every piece of skill, every tackle, every shot and every movement the crowd rings out – either in approval or disapproval, depending on who you support. But there’s no malice, no ill-feeling, so spite. Just die-hard fans willing their team on to victory, and wishing wholeheartedly that the enemy will make an endless string on mistakes.
Flags bearing team logos, replica jerseys, scarves, makarabas and banners were brought out in full force. Some of the more creative fans brought with them hand-written banners. The vibe was fantatsic.
Chiefs vs Pirates Match
And there’s no better place to experience the true atmosphere of South African soccer then a Chiefs vs Pirates match, no matter where in the country it takes place. On what was a blisteringly hot Sunday, the fans got what they wanted (the Cheifs fans, at least).
It was a feast of quality football and could easily have finished 3 – 3 or 4 – 4 had all the goal-scoring chances been taken. As it was, the teams finished the 90 minutes and half-hour of extra time deadlocked at nil-all. And the fans loved it, ooh-ing and aah-ing at every opportunity – and sometimes booing an opposition mistake.
The result would be decided by penalty shoot-outs, Pirates to take the first kick.
Happy Jele stepped up, and missed, his error compounded by Jose Torrealba, who slotted easily for Chiefs. Terror Fanteni was up next for Pirates, but his shot was saved by stand-in Chiefs ‘keeper Arthur Bartman.
David Mathebula was next up for Chiefs, and he, like Torrealba, scored easily. And when Ndumiso Mabena pulled his shot wide, the writing was on the wall.
Victory was secured for Cheifs when Bulu converted easily. Cue the bone-shakingly loud celebrations.
The result wasn’t all that mattered (although for Chiefs fans, like me, it’s always vital to beat Pirates). What the match showed was that South Africans fans have all the right moves ahead of the World Cup in just 60-odd days’ time. If the vibe can be replicated at even half the intensity, the tournament matches will be a phenomenal experience.
Welcome, world, and be ready for the sounds of a truly African World Cup.
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