Published: June 23rd 2010June 18th 2010
As all seven of us had lived in South Korea, this was a game we had been looking forward to. Argentina is in outstanding form and the coach, Maradonna, is almost as fun to watch as the team. Meanwhile, the South Koreans don't have anywhere near the skill and depth of the Argentineans, but make up for that in fitness and speed. It was bound to be a great game.
Mark, the sole American in the group, drove us all down to a local station, from whence we were to get the train to the game. We consisted of two Canadians, an Australian, a Welsh, a Filipina, and a Dane. Having all developed a love-hate relationship with Korea, we really wanted Korea to win... or get trounced. Only a draw would be unsatisfying.,
On arrival at the stadium in Soweto, it was clear that the Argentines vastly outnumbered the Koreans by a ratio of around 5:1. (Koreans still don't travel very well -- especially to dangerous places such as the Dark Continent.)
On the way into the stadium, we ran into a bunch of North Koreans -- awesome. They were actually Japanese-Koreans -- there was no way Dear
North Korean supporters
Around 20 North Koreans made it to the game -- all from Japan
Leader was going to let his subjects wander around un-guarded. The group of around ten attracted a lot of attention from the Argentineans, South Africans, Australians, and just about everyone else... except the South Koreans. Funny that. I guess a lifetime of indoctrination in South Korea is a bit hard to just throw away (the North Korean flag is still illegal in the country).
I happened upon a few women doing face painting and asked how much.
I nearly fell over. What's the story here? Hasn't FIFA caught on to these people an found another way to gouge the supporters? I guess painted faces make good TV though. Anyway, I got a North Korean flag on my cheek just for fun. Again, apart from a few American Koreans who asked about it, the South Koreans pretended not to notice. (From childhood, South Koreans were taught the evils of communism and the communist north, and were encouraged to paint pictures of communists with devil horns, tails, and horrifying faces.)
We had great seats near the halfway just 18 rows back from the action. The entire area in front of us was taken up by South
Koreans. This suited as because their chants of "Taehanmingook"
were far quieter than the vuvuzelas (although just as tedious).
But at the start of the game, we witnessed an interesting phenomenon: non-Koreans began arriving with tickets for the prime seats in the rows in front of us, which were already full. Gradually, the number of Koreans dwindled to around 50% as the squatters were evicted from their seats. The stewards took a pretty no-nonsense approach and evicted everyone very efficiently indeed. Good to see some things here are working as planned.
Kickoff started with a roar and within very few minutes it became clear that Argentina simply outclassed their opponents. By the end of the first 45 minutes, the score was 2:0 to Argentina. Korea managed to score one in extra time which sent a roar through the Korean contingent and precipitated a renewed taehanmingook
But in the second half Argentina sliced through the Korean defence to score two more goals. To their credit, the South Korean team didn't give up, but the fans in front of us -- their ranks already decimated by valid ticket holders -- were very quiet indeed during the remainder of
All in all though, it was an awesome game -- Korea is still a strong team and played hard -- and we got the result we wanted.
Getting back to the house, we decided to celebrate with a game feast.
We headed to what is admittedly a very touristy restaurant called Carnivore that serves traditional African cuisine -- chicken, crocodile, zebra, antelope, springbok. Personally, I don't recommend the antelope or the springbok. Lions only eat these things because they can't always get zebra, which is a very tasty and gamey dish.
Crocodile has been my favourite meat for years and didn't let me down. Awesome. Especially with a good South African Cabernet Sauvignon. I think the total bill was around $280 for seven -- not bad considering how touristy it is and the several bottles of wine!
Back at our fortified house we cracked open another couple of bottles of wine to wash down dinner and hit the sack. A good day in my books!
There are more photos below