Early Doors

Third time lucky for hosts

Early Doors

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At the third time of asking, the host nation has got a team to cheer on in the World Cup final.

After South Africa crashed out in the group stage and Ghana so dramatically failed to reach the last four, parts of the host country have grabbed their reason to support the Dutch with both hands after Netherlands beat Uruguay 3-2 in their semi-final.

Forget Bafana Bafana and the somewhat clunkily dubbed BaGhana BaGhana, now some South Africans are getting fully behind the Oranje Oranje.

They may have joined in with the African unity vibe when the Black Stars were the last team from the continent left in the competition, but now they are laying claim to the first team to make the 2010 final.

Well, how much the Dutch team's success means to the group of guys who gather round a fire on the patch of land next to Early Boers's hotel every night is unclear, but the Afrikaners are loving it.

The local media played its part in getting the country to back a third and final side, with one of the typically inflammatory columnists describing Uruguay captain, star striker and talisman Diego Forlan as a "cross-eyed, girlish vulture" in the build-up to the match at the Green Point Stadium.

When EB was in Cape Town on Saturday, on the eve of Germany's match with Argentina, the city's party district of Long Street was awash with orange in celebration after Netherlands beat Brazil, though there was barely a Dutch accent to be heard - the match was some 500 miles away in Port Elizabeth.

There were plenty of orange shirts and dresses and cries of "Hup Holland Hup!" in the upmarket Johannesburg suburb of Craighall Park where EB watched the Uruguay match last night. It all had the air of St Patricks Day, the annual celebration to honour the patron saint of droning on about your Irish great-grand-uncle and how it has all become too commercial these days.

It was clear that there were several viewers in Giles bar who had hardly ever watched a football match before, but were enjoying their reason to piggy-back upon their nation's World Cup fever at this late stage.

When Giovanni van Bronckhorst blasted in his late entry for goal of the tournament, everyone began to really take to this football lark, and the win was seized upon as an excuse to carry on into the night.

It is, of course, great to see any reason to buoy interest in the tournament still reaching high levels in South Africa, and more evidence of how the hosts have embraced the tournament and largely proved the doubters wrong.

But it's a real shame that more people in Western Cape, where northern European settlers first landed in South Africa in the mid-17th century, didn't feel compelled to convert this football fever and re-discovery of their roots into bums on seats. There were over 7,000 places empty for the match itself which, for a World Cup semi-final, is frankly shocking; especially considering the interest in the match was mainly coming from the far more affluent white population.

FIFA and local organisers should accept their share of the blame for that, but you'd think that with the gusto so many fans were singing "We love you Holland, we do!" (in English), that more would have made the short journey from bar stool to stadium seat to actually lend their support in person.

As EB took its leave at the final whistle, taxi driver Masile looked in on the hordes, revelling in obtaining their involvement in a World Cup final almost through the back door while every African team fell short and said: "It's just like 1652 all over again." 

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QUOTE OF THE DAY:  "There is no way I want the disappointment of the Germany game to be my last for England. It was such a low and I am determined to do as much as I can to make amends for what happened. I expect there to be a lot of changes to the squad and it is up to the manager whether I am selected, but I am going to continue to make myself available for my country." - Steven Gerrard says he will not quit the England team, but admits that many places are under threat.

FOREIGN VIEW: "I think South Africa weren't prepared to host the World Cup. A mountain of things happened. Like in the first game, against Italy, when we had to go to the hotel, the bus broke down - a new bus - and we had to wait 45 minutes and we had to go in taxis. FIFA only care about the stadiums and what you see on TV." - Paraguay captain Justo Villar blasts the hosts for not thoroughly vetting all auto manufacturers ahead of the tournament. EB just wonders how they would handle a World Cup final in Asuncion.

BOERMY ARMY TWEET OF THE DAY: "@EarlyBoers seriously? In my estimations he is therefore now more deserving of the Ballon d'Or than Messi et al. Genius." - ftmmichael agrees that Mark van Bommel deserves some kind of accolade for only picking up his first booking of the tournament against Uruguay.

SOCIAL NETWORKING VICTORY OF THE DAY: Nigeria President Goodluck Johnson decided to rescind his decision to withdraw the Super Eagles from international after receiving hundreds of messages on his Facebook page.

COMING UP: The progress of the Dutch ensures a second successive all-European final, and tonight's semi is a true clash of the big guns. So sit back, relax and enjoy our live text commentary of Germany v Spain (kick-off 19:30).

There's the Armchair Pundit with his own take on last night's action and this evening's match, plenty of analysis from our select squad of experts and the steady drip feed of all the latest events from the World Cup news ticker.

It's stage four of the Tour de France today. You can keep up-to-date either via our live commentary and peloton tracker or watch it on the Eurosport Player. Why not get involved by joining the #tourdetweet?

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