Spain given gumboot-slapping welcome

POTCHEFSTROOM, South Africa - Spain's World Cup squad were welcomed with traditional music and dancing including a demonstration of gumboot-slapping when they touched down at their training base in Potchefstroom on Friday.

Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas and their team mates landed around midday at the military airbase, its runway specially extended for the World Cup, in this leafy university town an hour's drive south-west of Johannesburg.

The European champions were transported to their base at North West University along streets lined with thousands of cheering "Potch" locals who waved Spanish flags and blew lustily on multi-coloured vuvuzela horns.

Executive mayor Maphetle Maphetle addressed the slightly frazzled-looking players and coaching staff, who flew overnight to Johannesburg on Thursday and were dressed in sharp grey suits with red ties.

"We know you are a very good coach," Maphetle told Vicente del Bosque sitting in the front row.

"We hope the final will be between Bafana Bafana and Spain," he added, in reference to the South African national side.

Some of the Spanish party looked a little bemused at the group of leaping teenage boys slapping their black and white-striped gumboots, originally used as a kind of primitive language by mining workers.

They applauded the dancers and musicians politely before heading to their rooms in the new university sports village.

Spain will play their opening Group H match against Switzerland in Durban on June 16.

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