Sadly, the two games I’ve been fortunate enough to watch at the Cape Town stadium (and not the Greenpoint stadium as SkyNews insists on calling it!) have not produced the results fans would have wanted but I have not left unhappy.
It’s a spectacular stadium – and walking around the world-class arena, side-stepping thousands of English and Algerian football fans on Friday, I was really proud of what South Africa has achieved. It wasn’t just the facility, it was the hundreds of smiling policemen and women who welcomed ticketholders, it was the green-jacketed volunteers showing the way and it was the hostesses and staff in the hospitality suites who impressed.
Good humour and a genuinely warm reception were the order of the day. Making the chilly Cape Town night and disappointing result a little more bearable were a variety of liquid libations available. Amarula, South Africa’s unique cream liqueur (apparently second only to the ever-popular Bailey’s Irish Cream in the worldwide sales stakes), adopted FIFA sanction and branding. In the space of three hours in a hospitality suite I saw countless bottles opened and enjoyed. Similarly, the South African wines on offer also flew off the bar counter. Perhaps the real surprise for me – considering the sea of red shirts and St George crosses – was noting that the predominantly English supporters really enjoyed the local brandy. The surprise was that they were not – as many South Africans would have – adulterating the Van Ryn 12-year-old brandy with cola, but drinking it on the rocks and appreciating it for its own sake.