Cape Town's Madeirans welcome hero Ronaldo

CAPE TOWN - Cape Town's Portuguese, almost all of whom trace their links back to Madeira, travelled en masse to Green Point stadium on Monday to welcome their island's most famous son, Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Welcome home Cristiano Ronaldo," read a banner, carried by one of the hundreds of fans who gathered at the local Vasco da Gama football club, started by the Portuguese community in 1980, and named after the Portuguese explorer who sailed around the Cape of Good Hope.

"Cristiano Ronaldo makes us very proud, and we all wanted to be together today. Portugal scarves and shirts have completely sold out," said Ricardo Camara, a 48-year-old business man.

Portugal drew their Group G opener 0-0 with Ivory Coast and now face North Korea, who lost 2-1 to Brazil.

"This is unbelievable. I never thought the World Cup could be so joyous," said 74-year-old Adelina da Silva, who was born in Madeira, which has some 250,000 inhabitants, but moved to South Africa as a child.

Many of the Madeirans in South Africa arrived as economic migrants in the 1960s.

"Here in Cape Town, we are the largest community of Madeirans found outside Madeira, so for us it is hugely exciting to see Ronaldo in the flesh," said Marcelino de Nobrega.

"We are one of the tightest communities in this country."

He added he expected a solid victory for Portugal.

"Ivory Coast were a very tough, physical side. That is not Portugal's game. I'm expecting a good result today though."

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