Rustenburg: Forget getting past England. The US team had to get past the elephants first.
The Americans were delayed twice on Friday when elephants blocked the road, the second back-up coming as the squad was traveling to its training session at Royal Bafokeng Stadium. The elephant was munching on a tree as the Americans left the Bakubung Bush Lodge, and it moved to the side of the road after about four minutes.
“Everybody had their cell phones out, pictures were being taken,” coach Bob Bradley said. “It was all part of the experience.”
Earlier in the afternoon, a bus carrying 10 players on their way to an open-air market at the entrance to the team hotel got stuck behind an elephant, spokesman Michael Kammarman said. Players had timed the trip to get back to the hotel in time for the start of the World Cup opener between South Africa and Mexico.
Signs outside the US hotel warn: “ELEPHANTS COME CLOSE TO OUR FENCE KEEP A DISTANCE OF 30 METERS AND PLEASE BE QUIET” and “BABOONS ARE DANGEROUS - PLEASE KEEP CLEAR OF THEM AND DO NOT FEED THEM.” Another one reads, “THIS IS BIG 5 TERRITORY TREAT THE ANIMALS WITH RESPECT AND THEY WILL RETURN THE COMPLIMENT.”
“It was cool,” US captain Carlos Bocanegra said of the up-close encounter with the animal kingdom. “A big elephant, just eating on the path out of our hotel.”
It wasn’t clear if the same elephant caused both delays.