Oranje glow brightens up Cape Town

Thousands of Dutch fans descend on the city to support their national team
Last Updated 06 July 2010, 16:32 IST

Tens of thousands of Dutch fans streamed through the city filling waterfront bars and fan zones, honouring their reputation as some the world's most enthusiastic supporters ahead of their team's semifinal with Uruguay.

"We never expected to get past Brazil, so this is a really fantastic moment. We've got so far now we have to take the World Cup home," said 43-year-old Frank Lamers, from Schayk, wearing an orange pilot's uniform.

"I remember watching the Dutch lose World Cup finals in the seventies as a boy. It is now or never for us. Mentally the team is absolutely together," he added.  Netherlands lost two successive World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978, first to West Germany and then to Argentina in an era when the Dutch style of "total football" won it admirers all over the world. It has never won football's top prize.

"I think we will win tonight. Uruguay has players suspended or injured and the Dutch will have all this support.

"Our players are with some of the world's best clubs, they are on top form, we are going all the way this time," said Timo Marcus, a 20-year-old student from Utrecht wearing clogs.

If they beat Uruguay Netherlands would face either Germany or Spain, who meet in Durban on Wednesday.

"I'm hoping we'll get Germany, then we can get our revenge for 1974," said Marcus.
Clusters of Uruguay fans in the country's blue and white colours tried to make their presence felt in Cape Town's fan zone beneath Table Mountain, vowing the South American country could repeat its World Cup victories of 1930 and 1950.

"We are small in number today, but we are full of emotion, our hearts are full of fire for Uruguay. We are not just representing 3 million Uruguayans but also the whole of South America," said Rico Gonzales, a 19-year-old student from Montevideo who arrived on a special charter flight on Monday.

Delight that their team has made it to the last four while Brazil and Argentina have not, moved many Uruguayans to fly over at the last minute, he said.  Most locals supported Netherlands, particularly after Uruguay knocked Africa's last hope Ghana out of the tournament.

"We have lots of cultural ties with Netherlands here, through history and the Afrikaans language which is just like Dutch," said Benny Roberts, a 46-year-old from Cape Town. "The Dutch also play good soccer. I love to watch them."

(Published 06 July 2010, 16:32 IST)

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