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SAfrican football enthusiasm hit by early exit

Johannesburg: With Bafana Bafana out of the
World Cup, South African football fans have begun to ask
themselves who they should cheer for or even if they care at
all anymore.

South Africa became the first host team to be eliminated
in the first round of the world`s biggest football tournament
despite beating France on Tuesday in Bloemfontein, leaving
fans without a team to support for the last few weeks of the
competition.

"I am so very disappointed in Bafana, they have put South
Africa in a bad situation," said Clifton Zwane, a 45-year-old
fan from Soweto. "But my teams are Brazil and Spain from here
on."

Football in South Africa is traditionally a sport for
blacks, while whites tend to follow rugby more closely. But
the World Cup has helped to bridge the racial divide as many
in the country have come together to support the national team
at this year`s tournament -- the first to be staged in Africa.

"I am interested in the soccer because it is taking place
in our country, but now that Bafana is out of the World Cup,
rugby will return to be my first priority from here on," said
Joe Fourie, a 41-year-old section manager from Springs, a town
25 kilometers east of Johannesburg.

Riaan Lourens, a 29-year-old fan who works at a Computer
Software company in Pretoria, is maintaining his interest.

"I will absolutely keep watching the World Cup and attend
matches," Lourens said. "And I definitely think that either
Brazil or Argentina will win the tournament."

Genna Hewitson, a 17-year-old student from Johannesburg,
has decided to turn her attention to the only African team
that has so far advanced to the round of 16.

"I am disappointed that Bafana did not go through, but I
still have some hope for Ghana," Hewitson said.

Despite South Africa`s earlier-than-hoped exit, the local
organising committee of the World Cup is urging South Africans
to stay involved in the tournament.

"South Africa is certainly not down at the moment. It was
great to see the home team really going out of the tournament
on a high," local organising committee spokesman Jermaine
Craig said. "The victory has certainly shown that the country
is still very much behind this tournament."

Some don`t need any encouragement, but others do.

"I am definitely still watching," said Elanie Rupping, a
20-year-old student from Johannesburg. "I`ve loved Germany
since 2008 so from here on they are my team."

But Thuli Mchunu, a city council employee in
Johannesburg, is ready to get over the excitement and get back
to normal.

"I have never been a very big soccer fan, but I am
disappointed in Bafana and I am not going to be bothered about
the World Cup," Mchunu said.

JP Kalitz, a 23-year-old financial adviser from Pretoria,
is still interested in the football, but he doesn`t seem to
care too much about South Africa`s elimination.

"Portugal has been my team all along," Kalitz said.

Sheldon Grahn, a 22-year-old media student from Cape
Town, is cheering for Brazil, but was also impressed with his
own national team, which held Mexico to a draw and lost to
Uruguay before playing 1998 champion France.

"I am not disappointed in Bafana as beating France is a
step forward," Grahn said.

Gerhad Fourie is thinking along those same lines.

"If Bafana did their best then that is enough for me,"
said Fourie, a 28-year-old business analyst from Pretoria.
"From here on my team is Brazil."

Bureau Report

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