Photoblog by a proud citizen of planet earth

Posts tagged “Johannesburg

Ellis Park


Here is the world infamous Ellis Park in Johannesburg, South Africa. This Stadium was made popular by the hit movie “Invictus” which replays the events of the 1994 Rugby World Cup and how the springboks overcame all the controversy surrounding them and won the tournament and in essence began the healing process for the people of South Africa. Great movie, I highly recommend it.

But more often than not Hollywood (more…)

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Showcase venue

The showcase venue of the 2010 FIFA world cup held in South Africa. This is soccer city which was in Johannesburg and this is the very same venue that held the world cup final only a few days later between Spain & the Netherlands. Luckily for us we saw both teams during that world cup and in this particular match it was me crossing off an item of my bucket list: watching Brazil in the world cup! It was Brazil against the Ivory Coast which Brazil won by 3-1 in emphatic fashion, couldn’t have asked for a better experience πŸ™‚


Nightly Crawl

Going back down memory lane and revisiting South Africa again, this time its Johannesburg where we spent the majority of our time at the High View gardens which sadly has closed since then. Our room was the one up the stairs to the right, getting to it wasn’t really a problem during the day but it can be very challenging at night when the lights were out. The hotel provided us with a small pocket size flash light to use when we returned late but on a few nights we forgot to take it with us and getting back in the room was quite an adventure πŸ™‚


Fugazy

Fugazy

Our 7th match of the world cup was Slovakia vs Italy, another group that was wide open but unlike yesterday’s (a year ago) matches it was a bit more complicated. Paraguay was in the driver seat only needing a tie to secure qualification, all other teams was pretty much win and you are through. The Italians being a typical favorite in every world cup just needed a win against Slovakia and not many were expecting a surprise today, as neutrals we just wanted to see a lot excitement.

Fugazy

Today’s match was one of the strangest in terms of fan base, there were a lot of fans supporting Italy that day; I would go as far as 80/20. However the 80 percent were probably 80/20 fugazy! Fugazy is an Italian-American slang word for fake, the reason I say that is when the Slovak players came on to the field to warm up they all started to cheer them thinking they were the Italians since they had blue training suits on!!! I grabbed my camera to zoom in and see what was going on and I was right, it was the Slovaks! The funniest was when the announcer was late and said welcome to the field: Slovakia and the cheers changed to jeers when they realized it wasn’t Italy.

Fugazy

Shortly after Italy came on, also with their blue training suits on πŸ™‚

Fugazy

Don’t remember too much of the details of the game, for the most part it was a match played in midfield with the odd periods of excitement. Slovakia was up 1-0 at half-time and then when the news kept on coming in that Paraguay & New Zealand were tied at 0-0 the pressure increased. As the Italians stepped up their attack Slovakia ended up hitting them with another goal and they were up 2-0! A shocker was in the making, but without a lot of drama. The last 10 minutes were absolutely insane, Italy made it 2-1 in the 81st minute and then Slovakia scored to make in 3-1 in the 89th only for Italy to score a conciliation goal in stoppage time. The game ended 3-2 and Italy were out! Paraguay topped the group with Slovakia in 2nd place, and Italy exited the tournament bottom of the group. The Azzuri is going through a transitional phase and I’m sure they’ll be back with new blood in future world cups…


No Chance!!!!

No Chance!!!!

June 21, 2010 was our first of 2 Spain matches during the world cup. Luckily for us they were shocked in the first game against Switzerland and suddenly they are facing two must win matches in order to qualify to the round of 16. Luckily for us, they had to try for both matches πŸ™‚

No Chance!!!!

This was our first match at the infamous Ellis Park, made famous by the movie Invictus. This is where the 1995 World cup of rugby was held, the first international event to be held by South Africa since the Apartheid embargo was lifted. The stadium was quite old, and had a unique odor to it; its all for the history πŸ™‚

No Chance!!!!

Spain came out with guns blazing, no other way to describe it. It was an all out barrage on net, total control of the football, the majority of the first half was pretty much the Hondurans chasing the ball. Spain went up ahead with a David Villa goal, his first of the campaign and never looked back. The second half was no different to first, Spain was all over Honduras and Villa managed to add another one to his tally to make 2-0. Honduras had the odd chance here and there but nothing that would’ve been considered as a serious scoring opportunity. Villa blew his chance at a hat trick when they were awarded a penalty later on but he missed it wide! Chance after chance for Spain was wasted until the final whistle blew. One of the tournament favorite put a convincing performance and sent out their first message of intent.

No Chance!!!!

No Chance!!!!

A year ago today also one of our crew (we were four) was really down and out with some form of a flu; earlier in the day he was taken to the doctor by our hotel staff and he was prescribed some medication to help him get better. I’m sure had it been his wedding day it would’ve been postponed πŸ™‚ He was in really bad shape and in the morning he said that he might not go with us to the game since we get to see Spain again in the tournament and it might’ve been better for him to rest for the next 3 games after this one! When the time came to get ready he was a champ, somehow he managed to get enough energy to go to the game and enjoy it with us! Luckily for him it was all uphill for him from that point on, even though we left South Africa with him still recovering that was the worst day and it was behind us by then….


A Day to remember!

A Day to remember!

A year ago today was one the happiest days of my life, since watching the 1986 world cup I’ve wanted to watch Brazil play in the world cup and that was finally going to be the day. Brazil was playing Ivory Coast, one of the African favorites in the tournaments, and a huge crowd was expected. Due to the game being a “big attraction”, security was really tight at soccer city this time! We couldn’t be dropped off at our usual spot just around the corner from the stadium but we had to arrange for a Park and Ride, which was the busses organized by FIFA to pick up fans from specified locations around the city. We got dropped off and everything was going pretty smoothly, the majority of the people were supporting Brazil but one of the interesting sights was this huge group of roughly 200 Ivorians all dressed in official Cotes d’Ivoire jackets (pictured below), the sight of them all walking around is a lot more intimidating than them scattered in the stadium πŸ™‚

A Day to remember!

We got to the stadium and security was much tighter than usual, everyone was getting checked going everywhere, prior to this game you could pretty much go sit anywhere and as long as no one shows up to claim that seat than it was yours! My friends still managed to sneak in for one half so the close up shots are his. Going back to the game, by far the most crowded game we’ve been too and the loudest in terms of fans, my guess would be that it was 60/40 split in Brazil’s favor.

A Day to remember!

The game didn’t let the fans down, at least the Brazilians! They started out quickly on the attack and for the most part contained Ivory Coast. In the 25th minute with some neat quick passes between Kaka & Luis Fabiano with the later scoring from an acute angle to send the pro Brazilian crowd into a festive mood. Ivory Coast didn’t really get into the game until the last 7 or 8 minutes of the first half when they had their first shot on net. Brazil went into the dressing room protecting that one goal lead. The second half started the same way the first did but this time Brazil capitalized on a second goal five minutes into the half, Luis Fabiano had scored a spectacular individual goal were he lobs and controls the ball over several players before smashing the ball into the back of the Ivorian net. At this point, FIFA had banned replaying any controversial goals on the screens inside the stadium and for all we knew it was a legit goal because those were the replays we saw. Later on we found out that there were other angles that clearly show that he handled the ball before scoring the goal and that should not have counted.

A Day to remember!

Ivory Coast tried to get back into the game but unfortunately for them Brazil wasn’t about to let up anytime soon. In the 60th minute, Kaka crossed the ball into the path of a running Elano who only manages to deflect the ball into the back of the net for the third time for the Seleção. The game got aggressive and Ivory Coast was able to get one back with a Drogba header in the 79th minute. It was yellow card mayhem for the rest of the match, Kaka managed to get booked twice within 3 minutes and receive his marching orders by the 88th minute, the 2nd card in particular was controversial as it appeared that there was a lot of embellishment by Keita (a Barca player, no surprise?!?!) Anyway the red card didn’t hurt that much because Brazil had already clinched a birth in the next round and only needed a tie to win the group over Portugal.

A Day to remember!

A Day to remember!

The ride back home was quite interesting! It took us quite sometime to get on a bus and get back to our park and ride station. We waited and waited and waited and waited for our taxi to show up after him confirming time after time that he is only 10 minutes away but to no avail, he never showed up. We were forced to pick a taxi from the street who wasn’t familiar with our area very much, he ended up taking us through downtown Johannesburg around midnight and let me tell you that its quite a scene. Its a complete ghost town, very seldom can you spot someone and if you do, you don’t generally get the “safe” feeling. We managed to get home safely and it was quite an experience. A day that I will always remember…..


Heir to the crown

Messi gets blocked

June 17, 2010 was marked on our calendars for a while by now, it was the day that we were going to watch Argentina play South Korea. Out of the 4 of us, no one was a real Argentina fan but it was the day we were going to see Messi live in action. I’m a die hard Brazil & Real Madrid fan, no compromising on either. Messi being an Argentine that plays for Barcelona makes him public enemy number one in my books, but putting all my biased aside, the man is a footballing genius, it is a treat to watch him do his thing. What made this day extra special is that not only do we get to watch arguably the best player of his generation but we also get to see the legend: Maradona. Maradona was the national team’s coach for the world cup so it was very interesting to see the most loved man in Argentina with whom many claim to be his heir to the crown.

OK back to the game, so coming into the match you know there are 2 people that everyone is here to see: Messi & Maradona. Its a reoccurring theme that you can not avoid to notice. The picture below was Maradona’s first steps onto the field, he came on with his track suit to inspect the pitch and check up on his team. I don’t know if its just me, but it almost looked as if he was reliving his glory days of the past, his held was held high he kept on looking at the stands as if to say: “Back in my days, I used to own all of this, they use to stand and applaud me”. Its probably just me but it was quite something to see the man that dominated the 1986 World cup in person, truth be told is that no one player has dominated a single tournament the way Maradona did in 1986. That same player that we watched as children some 24 years ago was now walking the field in front of me. Life is funny that way.

Maradona watching the warm ups

Oh yeah back to the match…. Messi was a genius, he put on a show that we enjoyed very much. No player moves with the ball like him, nobody cuts and zips through other players like him, you always think to yourself, that short guy is really good. That short guy is #10, SeΓ±or Messi!! Argentina had control of the match right from the get go and they were up 2-0 by the 33rd minute, an own goal in the 17th minute with a goal fro Higuain. The game looked sealed for the Argentinian team and they let their guard down, the intensity stepped slightly down and in extra time Korea managed to get a scrappy goal and make it 2-1 at Half time. We have a game.

At half time, it appears that Maradona gave a really inspirational speech. The team came out blazing and completely ran wild over the South Koreans, Argentina scored 2 more goals by Higuain to finish off with a hat rick! BTW, Higuain plays for Real Madrid so seeing him bag 3 was quite a pleasant treat for me, enjoyed it very much.

Higuain chance

Final Score was 4-1 but the match could’ve easily ended up as 5-1 or 6-1. Messi & Aguerro missed some really clear cut chances. The Albesciete (Argentinian football team) faithful left the stadium in a very cheerful mood, after that performance they were becoming one of the clear favorites of the tournament. They were ultimately eliminated at the quarterfinals by a masterful performance by the Germans.

Tevez attempts to shake off a defender

Messi preparing to take a corner

Teams coming on to the field


A night at Melrose

with Guillem Balague

Today’s entry is another one from our 2010 world cup trip to South Africa. On this day (a year ago exactly) we were heading to Melrose Arch in downtown Johannesburg to watch the last 2 matches of that day: Spain vs Switzerland and South Africa vs Uruguay. While making our way to the square I saw this guy with a headset conducting an interview and I was thinking to myself I know him from somewhere and then it dawned on me, its Guillem Balague, my favorite Spanish football reporter who has his own football/soccer blog. He’s a regular on the skysports show, Revista La Liga, which I watch religiously. It was definitely nice of him to take the time out to take this pics with me specially considering that he was in the middle of a broadcast. We were having a hard time getting the camera to work and that was me saying whats going on? Lets take the picture! Anyway Thanks Guillem, that was really nice of you.

With regards to the games, Switzerland shocked Spain 1-0 that day and Uruguay destroyed South Africa 3-0 so all in all it wasn’t a festive night at Melrose Arch but the overall atmosphere managed to say somehow festive. Had South Africa won I think the place would have gone bananas!

Here are some more pics from that night, not the greatest but the idea is to capture the mood:

Melrose Square from our table

Melrose Square at Night


Jo’Burg

Jo'Burg

After our first night in Rustenburg, we stayed in Johannesburg the whole time we were attending the games. This is a picture of Johannesburg’s skyline from Soccer City and below is a sign on the way to the stadium.

Jo'Burg


Sea of Oranje!

Dutch National Anthem

June 14, 2010 was our 2nd match day, one thing for sure it was a sea of Oranje (Dutch national team) jerseys. Its quite something to see the Dutch play, they completely dominate the stadium with their bright orange shirts. We had seats in the upper deck and it was shaded, which generally is a good thing but when its winter in Africa, you really want to sit under the sun. The last 20 minutes of the game were not enjoyable at all, I kept on wishing that the game would end. In a way it was an indicator of the how the game was, it was either this one or the USA vs England that was our most boring match! Luckily they were the first two, so it was all uphill from here on. Oh the game was between Holland and Denmark, Holland won 2-0, Agger scored an own goal in the 46th minute while trying to head the ball out with his head. Kuyt followed in the 85th minute with a tap in after the ball had hit the post. It was an ugly win but littler did we know that they would turn up in the later rounds until they lost the final to Spain.

Oranje Army!!

This was also our first Soccer City experience, it is quite a Stadium, world class in every way. Really loved everything about it specially earlier in the tournament. At this point security has not been that organized and you could easily pass a lot of “off-limits” streets. Our driver, Derek, managed to get us pretty much up to the gate which was quite a treat, later on it became a hassle!

Dutch Fans

Danish Fan

Dejected Danish fans

Festive Dutch Fans


Gallery

Time to say Goodbye…

The Sun Dial at High View Gardens


Sadly we received the news that High View Gardens in Johannesburg, South Africa will be closing down due to financial issues. I guess the current economic situation is truly a world phenomena, no one seems to be immune from it. My thoughts and concerns are all for the people that work there, they were not the most privileged of people yet they were hard working, polite, friendly and always going out of their way to make us feel comfortable. They really wanted us to leave with a positive impression of South Africa and that we definitely did πŸ™‚

We spent roughly 2 weeks at High View Gardens while we were in Joburg attending the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It was a little gated community that was an escape from what the real city was like, the shacks took you to a different time & place in Africa, it surely didn’t feel or look like the metropolitan city that we experienced once we left the compound. There was also a little hill that we hiked up every know and then that would overlook the whole city, which was quite a scene. What was really unique/odd about that climb is that during certain times of the day some of the locals would go to the same hill top and pray or have some kind of religious ceremony, it really was quite a thing to experience, I wanted to take images of that but I felt I should show more respect for what was going on so I opted not to do so.

Thank you for the memories and a most sincere well wishes to the staff that worked there. Here is another image of one of the huts there, I’ll post more images in future entries.

One of the huts at the High View Gardens