Second round is over, no more games for two days, it was time to see a bit more of South Africa and a trip to Pilanesberg National Park to try and see the Big Five. Enjoy a bit of the pictures from the wildlife of South Africa.
June 29 marked the final day of the 2nd Round for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In the battle of Europe, Spain defeated Portugal 1-0 with David Villa once again acting as the hero for La Rojo with his 63' strike. Portugal enjoyed a good first half, but after the break Spain were the better side and the deserving winners. In the other match, Paraguay defeated Japan to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in their history. The teams played to a scoreless draw and Paraguay advanced converting all five penalty kicks. Enjoy David Villa's goal vs Portugal.
Brazil became World Cup favorites with a 3-0 thumping of South American Rival Chile on June 28. Brazil scored two goals in the first half and Robinho added a third to secure a spot in the quarterfinals. Chile had been one of of the darlings of the first round with Alexi Sanchez one of the many bright spots. Unfortunately their skill and flair was no match for their more profile counterparts on this day. In the other Round of 16 match Holland defeated Slovakia 2-1 with Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder providing the goals.
Enjoy both the Holland Goals.
Football's Going Home...every English supporter loves to sing "Football's Coming Home" but on this day in Bloemfontein Germany outclassed England with a 4-1 win. It was a great day for the German and neutral fans as the beer was flowing prior to kickoff and some great goals by the team in white. For us, it was an early morning after a long night following the US loss in Rustenburg, but we started walking towards the highway at 8 am. We were picked up by a cop who laughed when we told him we were hitchhiking to Bloemfontein, which was 5 hours away. He dropped us off at a gas station on the highway and lucky for us, we met a few lads all born in England, but raised in South Africa offered us a ride - LUCKY!
Saturday June 26 started early with a road-trip to Pretoria to get back Ben's lucky hat, which was taken from us during the celebrations following the Algeria game. It took quite a few different phone calls, but we found and it and felt it was worth the trip as he had worn it for all the US group games. With the hat safely returned we headed to Rustenburg with no tickets, but hopeful that we would be able to find some English fans selling. We arrived at the ticket center and at one point we ended up having 10 tickets for the match in our possession. We sold back the extra tickets and then used a FIFA parking pass that was for Soccer City, to gain us access close to Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
June 25 brought the end of the group stages and Spain had to win just advance to the 2nd Round. Spain defeated Chile 2-1, to win the group and both teams advanced to the knock-out stages. Brazil and Portugal knew a draw would be good enough for each team to advance and in Durban played to a 0-0 stalemate. The first round over, now was the time for the real excitement to start with 16 teams still playing for the chance to win the World Cup.
Waking up on June 24 with a bit of a hangover and still buzzing from the United States victory, it was a day spent on the couch reliving the night before and watching the final games from Group E and F. Holland went undefeated in Group E defeating a very disappointing Cameroon 2-1 and Japan finished in 2nd place with a 3-1 win over Denmark. Keisuke Honda was making quite the name for himself and scored another goal against the Danes. In the Group F matches, Slovakia pulled off one of the bigger upsets in the tournament by knocking out Italy with a 3-2 win. Paraguay secured first place with a 0-0 draw against New Zealand. Enjoy all five goals in Slovakia's win over a very poor Italy side.
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It's the day that every American soccer fan will always remember, but I was lucky enough to be inside Loftus Versfeld Stadium to see THE goal by Landon Donovan. As the ball crossed the line, I grabbed a South African rugby fan in his mid 60's that was attending his first ever soccer match, I hugged him and lifted him into the air in celebration. When the final whistle did blow, no one left the stadium, except for the Algerian contingent. The United States players stood in the middle of the field watching the replays on the big screen and fans did the same. It was a moment that no one wanted to end. It finally did end when we left the stadium, but the party continued late into the night. It was a moment and a game that will always be remembered in the history of the United States Men's National Team.
June 22, 2010 was the start of the third game in each group, which meant two games starting at the same time. After some help from friends securing tickets, we made our way to Bloemfontein to watch South Africa vs. France live. In the buildup to the game, France had players suspended and almost a team mutiny, while South African fans were hoping for a miracle to advance. It was a beautiful warm day and with the stadium located next to a shopping mall it created quite a festive mood pre-game. Prior to entering the stadium it was a great scene with people drinking surround by the sound of vuvuzela's. The best 2nd half of the World Cup for me was USA-Slovenia, but the first half of South Africa-France was by far the best 45 minutes of the first round. Prior to this game I had not heard or seen vuvuzela's being used in unison and it created an atmosphere not matched at any other World Cup game. South Africa jumped out to a 2-0 lead before half-time and had chances to make it more, but did not finish their chances. At half-time, people were starting to believe that South Africa might be able to advance to the 2nd round, but France and especially Florent Malouda had other ideas and the game finished 2-1. Advancing to the second round did not happen for Bafana Bafana, but on this day, the boys in yellow made a country proud.
On June 21, Portugal scored 7 goals including this entertaining one by Cristiano Ronaldo to defeat North Korea 7-0. At Ellis Park I was able to watch Spain win 2-0 against Honduras. It wasn't the best performance by the European Champions but it did give them confidence after falling to Switzerland in their first game of the World Cup campaign. David Villa stole the show in Jo'Burg, scoring both goals. Chile moved to the top of Group H with a 1-0 win over Switzerland.