Having been warned by both our inside guy at FIFA, and the owners of our B&B, we leave for the park & ride at 9:30 am for the 1:30 pm kickoff. It is also quite cold, but sunny, so doubled up on socks and tshirts, have the hat, gloves, and sunglasses. After a half-hour ride in toward the city itself, we get out at Gold Reef City. An amusement park celebrating the history of gold mining in the area. And on the other side of the street, it is a casino. Instead of chaos at the drop-off, we walk around the bend, into a nearly empty line, get right onto a shuttle, which spends 15 minutes driving us to the stadium. It is now 10:15. I guess the people who had trouble tried to get there right at kick-off, a feat which makes no sense to us who value the whole experience.
Along the main access road, the locals are just setting up there food stalls, providing sausages, chicken, salads, sandwiches, and drinks for anyone who walks along the main road from the dropoff toward the stadium. Only a couple are ready for business at this time, but all have on vests and ID proclaiming their fitness to handle food.
Many fans mill about, as the gates have yet to open. Way more Argentina than South Korea, but that is expected. Lots of locals on the side of the Argies, including the locals with the curly wigs, earmuffs, tights, and jerseys.
South Korea buys our loyalty with an additional layer in the form of a free t-shirt from their government sponsored school in Swaziland. They also brought in a student group who perform a Korean drum ceremony as fans dance and snap photos around them.
Once through security, but outside of the the ticket-taking, we stroll over to the sponsors area where we come across friends. Not unexpectedly, of course, as I certainly figured they’d be around for tomorrow’s USA-Slovenia match at Ellis Park, so hitting this match makes complete sense. After a chat, we have even more time to kill, so we wander over to the Bud beer garden. We sit with 4 locals at a picnic table, and we begin the usual exchange of information. Very nice people, and they want mostly to know our impressions of South Africa both before we arrived and now. Finally, we leave them behind, and head inside.
Soccer City is a fantastic setup. Brand new of course, but impressively compact, tight feel to the seating bowl for its massive capacity.
Just before start, now there are 2 small and one large sections of South Korea fans, but 2 very large, multiple-section groups of Argentina supporters in the lower bowl. Fairly entertaining match itself, even if all 3 first-half goals were a bit sketchy. Higuain’s hat-trick could not have been easier, as Messi dominates play along with the affections of the crowd. Can a player be named the MVP of the World Cup without scoring a goal? I’m guessing he can.