Cape Town stadium hungry for limelight

CAPE TOWN - Noisy fans streamed to Green Point stadium on Friday as night fell over Cape Town, with dazzling yellow South Africa shirts outnumbering the sky blue of Uruguay and dark blue of France.

South Africa's "Mother City" was hungry for the limelight after the 2010 World Cup got off to a glittering start in Johannesburg's Soccer City with an opening celebration and a 1-1 draw for the hosts with Mexico.

French fans were somewhat thin on the ground in Cape Town but the local Congolese community turned out in force to help boost the numbers.

"Of course I'm an African so I'll also support the hosts, but my first team has to be France. It's the same for all us from French-speaking Africa," said Richard Loemba, a 30-year-old student from Brazzaville.

Scepticism at home about the chances of the France team, 1998 winners and runners-up in 2006, was reflected in the demeanour of some of the fans.

"I think our chances are pretty slim," said 40-year-old David Rauzet, from Paris, combining the football with a holiday around South Africa with his father and uncle.

Asked where all the French fans were, his father Alain, 66, answered: "In France."

Most fans sported thick clothing under their football shirts as the temperature dropped after a day of brilliant sunshine.

The 70,000 capacity stadium, which boasts a spectacular location between the mountains and the sea, glowed a graceful, dim white.

"I read that only 4,000 French fans came over so those of us that are here will have to make more noise," said Julien Damon, a 26-year-old student from St Etienne, who works in South Africa.

There were surprisingly few vuvuzelas among the supporters of both France and Uruguay, given the way vuvuzela fever has seized the country.

"It is too difficult to play. I tried, but I can't do it," said Sergio Fernandez, a 36-year-old office employee from Colonia, Uruguay, who said he would stay in South Africa as long as his team did.

"We won the World Cup twice so our chances are good," he said. Reminded that Uruguay's last victory came in 1950, he smiled. "Then it is time for us again then.

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