Photoblog by a proud citizen of planet earth

Posts tagged “South Africa

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™‚

Break Area

This one is from the archives of South Africa, this was our break area at the safari where people would meet up for drinks and coffee before heading out for a drive. Our morning wake up call was at around 5 am and we wouldn’t return back to camp until around 10:30-11 am where we would be served breakfast. After that usually everyone goes for a nap until we are served lunch at 2:30pm, but I’m the type of person once I’m up, I’m up, I need to be lacking sleep over a series of days to start needing the afternoon naps. I used to walk around the camp, take pictures, mingle with the staff and just enjoy nature as some of the less dangerous animals did tend to get close to the camp. The room behind the glass doors was the “breakfast” area, dinner was served outside in a hut type of setting; it really felt like Survivor where would all sit around bonfire. Good times….

The Magic of Africa

I took this image on our last evening drive in Kruger Park, I thought its a fitting way to say goodbye to the memories of our world cup trip last year. Our experience was nothing but positive, it was really unfortunate how the security situation was blown out of proportion and I’m sure as we witnessed had its impact on attendance! We were definitely glad to see that the tournament was pulled off without any major incidents, the people of South Africa and rest of the continent deserved it.

But really there is something about Africa, its such a raw and beautiful place. This is just a glimpse of whats out there…



This weekend I went back to playing golf for the first time in over 2.5 years, the primary focus for me was to not swing so hard and injure myself after not playing for so long. My mind thinks in a strange way and this reminded me of crocodiles πŸ™‚ The night before I was watching a documentary about crocodiles in Northern Australia; one of the ways they break their meal into smaller digestible portions is by spinning around at a very high speed to tear the ligaments & joints of their prey.

Each animal has its own unique traits, according to wikipedia, a crocodile bite measure 5000 pounds per square inch of pressure when biting down, compared to a white shark that measures 400 punds per square inch. But with all this force Crocs don’t chew on their prey to break them into smaller portions, they take one bite to capture their prey and spin around violantly to tear them to smaller portions and in essence kill them. If they are lucky they get to eat the whole prey but more often then not they are joined by another fellow crocodile. Even with all this force they still don’t have much strength to open their jaw and thats why we see them always taped shut when captured, they just don’t have the strength to open their jaw.

This particular picture was taken of a crocodile during our Safari in South Africa. I was using my 70-200mm for this shot but it was about 50 yards away from us, we were walking on foot by then πŸ™‚ The ranger told us not to get too close to the water because they are quite sneaky and coud jump at us, he did think that the likelihood of that happening was very low since there were only 2 crocs in the area and one of them was the one above, he doubted the second one was with him in that lake. Oh yeah, a week before we arrived in our lodge, one the two crocodiles was found in the swimming pool of our lodge!! Apparently they can “smell” water and they are always attracted to it.

Tiki Taka

Tiki Taka

June 25, 2010 was our final match of the world cup, 8 out of 8! We did it, we made it to every single game and it was almost over. We were happy to see Spain play Chile because it was two strong teams that couldn’t afford to lose specially Spain who were facing a must win match, but at the same time the mood was slightly somber, we knew it was the end. Me & my brother were flying out the next night! Our little escape from reality into football heaven was just about to end.

Chileans were by far the most festive fans that we’ve seen at this world cup. Through our stay in South Africa we heard the infamous Chi-Chi-Chi-Chile chants (made world famous by the mine rescue operation in Chile a few months later). However that day we got to see them in numbers chant and dance to their songs. They were super friendly, welcomed everyone, danced, sang, posed for pictures, just created an amazing atmosphere for our last world cup experience.

Tiki Taka

As far as the game goes Spain scored two goals in the first half, they were up 2-0 by the 38th minute after Iniesta had scored. David Villa scored the first from 40m out when the goalkeeper came out to clear the ball from Fernando Torres outside the 18 yard box but only for it to land to Villa. Chile was also reduced to ten men after one of their players received two yellow cards. Even though that Chile scored a quick conciliation goal in the 47th minute, Spain’s Tiki-Taka was its best. In a way they put us to sleep with their masterful possession of the ball, they just kept on passing the ball and creating a chance when they felt like it or at least it appeared that way. Chile never posed much of a threat to tie the match and it ended with a 2-1 scoreline. With Switzerland failing to beat Honduras, Spain ended up topping the group with Chile in 2nd place which earned them a date with Brazil in the round of 16…

Tiki Taka

We didn’t leave the stands until every player left, it was really over! From now on, its back to watching the games on TV….



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.


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.


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


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…



Since the draw was announced back in December of 2009 we were not looking forward to today’s game between the US & Algeria, matter fact we even thought of trading our tickets for another game if possible. But as they say, when you least expect you get the best surprises. From a neutral’s point of view today’s match was probably the most exciting match of the tournament, but we all have our biases towards the teams we support πŸ™‚ We made the one hour drive to Pretoria and we got there quite early so we walked around the stadium and grabbed a bite, after the constant celebrations we were quite malnutritioned and we were starting to feel it that day!


We got to the stadium and we got seated, we had the first row of the upper deck so we had rail guard in front of us. Our tickets were in the heart of the US fans, everyone around us was supporting them. The beauty of this match was that all 4 teams in the group were still in it, and Slovenia out of all teams were in the driver seat, a tie would have seen them through, a win for the US or England would also see them through. However an Algerian win required some help, which was Slovenia beating England! Remote chance but they were still in it.


The game was wide open, a treat for any neutral. Both teams attacked in numbers and left themselves open for the counter attack. If my memory serves correctly the US had the most of the chances in the first half but Algeria had the most dangerous one of the first half when the hit the crossbar. The US fans got the news they wanted to hear, England was up 1-0 by the 23rd minute so all the US had to do was win and they win the group, yes win the group that everyone thought Capello’s England would just dominate! The English were doing their part but the nerves were starting to get to the US fans as they are not getting the goal that they need.


The 2nd half was no different than the first, chance after chance but the US started to take more control of the match. They knew they had a chance, they had to go for it but for some reason they couldn’t buy a goal even if they could. Dempsey hit the post and missed his own rebound when he had an empty net, chance after chance was wasted and regular time had run out. Some of the US fans were on the verge of tears infront of us, had this result stood it would’ve been England and Slovenia that qualify. And in the first minute of extra time, Landon Donovan pounced on a rebound and placed the ball in the back of the net. I kid you not the stands shook, the crowd went ballistic, we were in the middle of the mayhem. People, beers, flags, hats, stuff was flying everywhere… it was insane! We truly enjoyed it and to be honest, they quite deserved it. They were the better team in that match.


Oh the final whistle hadn’t blown yet! There was still one last chance and it was a corner for Algeria, not really sure what happened but one of the players kept on arguing with the referee and he got his second yellow card so he got his marching orders. Shortly after that corner the referee blew the final whistle and a few “bad apples” starting to throw objects at the field. They were coming from the Algerian side, but one thing worth noting was that the Algerians were organized. They had their “leaders” in the stands that I guess led the songs and that sort of stuff, those guys immediately stood up and asked for them to stop throwing objects and they succeeded. It was nice to see how they wanted to show they were good sportsmen, they cheered their team and the US team when they walked by them. Left us with a positive impression with how well behaved they were even after the loss. There are always the few bad one that ruin it for the rest of us.


Going back to the US now, they won the group that no one expected them to. The team had gone around the stadium to salute the fans but spent most of its time in front of us, as I mentioned earlier we were in the middle of the US fan base. After seeing the passion of the US fans for their team, how they travelled in numbers to South Africa, whether you like it or not: US Soccer is here to stay….

Cycle of life

Girafe closeup

Giraffes were abundant during our stay at the Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge, they have an interesting role in the cycle of life. They primarily feed on vegetation and co-exist in packs, you seldom find one alone and if you do then its gone stray from the group.


They also rely on these birds to eat some form of insects of their skin, so in a way they are source of food for these birds.

Birds on Girafe

However they could also end up as a meal to a lion or crocodile if they are not careful.

Girafe remains

I guess every thing has its unique role in the cycle of life…

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…..

Eat, eat, eat….

Earlier this week I tweeted this article from CNN, which talks about the Maasai tribe fight with elephants for land that the people of the tribe want to use as farm land but the elephants continue to feed on that same crop. It reminded me of our safari as I recalled our ranger mentioning that elephants are always eating as long as they are awake (I guess showering doesn’t count as shown below :)). He went on to say that their population was very hard to keep in check because they were not hunted by any other species, they just eat and multiply.

I do understand the locals concerns but as a tourist I found it incredible to see them just roam freely in their herds. They were generally peaceful and didn’t mind us being around them, we ran into multiple herds during our stay but our last encounter was by far the most interesting. We apparently caught them in a random act of getting a belly rub (shown below). And right after that we saw another elephant taking a bath which also got playful with us, being sprayed with some of the mud he was bathing with was not pleasant though πŸ™‚

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



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.