South Africa's loudest fans to boost Bafana Bafana

BLOEMFONTEIN - South Africa's most passionate football fans are counting on the fervour of their support and a minor miracle to lift Bafana Bafana to victory in Tuesday's final World Cup Group A match against France.

The normally staid judicial capital Bloemfontein was in a state of heady excitement on Tuesday morning, with yellow-clad fans gathering early in the main square to dance and chant.

The Free State stadium will be full for the first time in the tournament for the Group A match, which could see both the hosts and the 2006 runners-up exit the competition.

"The miracle is going to happen. We are going to win for sure. And we are the best fans in South Africa. We are going to sing songs so our team can win," said Michael Rorwana, a 28-year-old cleaner.

He was wearing a white coat daubed with the South African colours and a green rooster-comb hat. He said he would watch with his friends at the Fan Fest site in the Manguang township but had come to the square to enjoy the build-up.

"I do love my country, I do love Bafana Bafana and I'm proud of them," he said.

South Africa could be the first host nation to go out in the first round of the World Cup since the event was first played in 1930. They and France both have one point, while Mexico and Uruguay, who play at the same time, have four apiece.


A draw between the Latin Americans would take both those countries through.

Bafana Bafana's chances of getting a result may have been boosted by the turmoil that has hit the French camp, where the players are in rebellion against coach Raymond Domenech.

Still, they should not count on that, said librarian Rosy Masinga, 44, who was also in the square and had a ticket for the game.

"Their problems are their problems, not for us. We must do the work on the field," she said, resplendent in a green wig, a Bloemfontein Celtic shirt and a South African flag around her shoulders

"Miracles might happen. We think our boys might do it. They are doing it for the country, not for themselves," she said.

Fans of Bloemfontein Celtic - who wear the green and white hoops of their Glasgow namesakes - have a reputation as the loudest and most passionate in South Africa.

"When the draw was done and the team were coming here, it was what the town needed, the big one for Bafana Bafana, for the big following in Bloemfontein," Bloemfontein Celtic chief operations officer Konco Khumbulani told Reuters at the Free State Stadium.

"Today the stadium is full to capacity and I've got a feeling the core Bloemfontein Celtic supporters will be here supporting Bafana Bafana with their songs," he said of the club's support, which fills the 48,000 capacity for big league games.

Indeed at mid-morning, a phalanx of dozens of orange-jacketed stewards danced their way in to the stadium crooning "Siwelele" - the Bloemfontein Celtic song, meaning "Togetherness."

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