PRETORIA // The car horns and vuvuzelas were silent yesterday as broken-hearted South Africans digested their team's disappointing World Cup performance. The overflowing bins on Pretoria's streets were signs of a good party but the strange quiet signalled the hangover from the 3-0 defeat by Uruguay that made it unlikely the hosts would progress to the knockout rounds.
"This team broke our hearts. We're in our own country," Brian Zikhale, a waiter, tutted. His brother Mzo nodded in agreement as behind them a couple of customers sipped strong coffee while masochistically watching a replay of the previous evening's match. "We were supposed to win," said Mzo. "Bafana Bafana don't have fighting spirit. People are suffering now. Fewer people will watch the next game."
The stalls that had lined the streets the day before doing a brisk trade in "plug-a-zela" earplugs had disappeared and customers would have no use for them for the first day since the tournament started. "It's not going to be the same anymore," said Skhumbuzo Zwane, cleaning tables on one of the city's squares that had the previous day been bursting with people but was now empty. "Bafana Bafana are going to get less support although I still have some hope."
Others had given up hope entirely, with James Dlamin, a parking attendant, sporting a black, red and yellow Germany hat. "They can't win, they don't know how to play football. All they know how to do is make this noise," he said miming the blowing of a vuvuzela. "They are embarrassing. Germany will win the World Cup." The Zikhale brothers said they would support another African team like Ghana or Ivory Coast if South Africa became the first host nation to fail to qualify from the group stage.
Headlines in the Sowetan newspaper declared "Agony" and "Nightmare", ruing " [Uruguay's double goalscorer Diego] Forlan, one-eyed referee and timid Bafana". Wednesday's result was of little importance to some 2,000 homeless people who streamed into a vast church in a wealthy suburb of Pretoria to hear a spiritual message and watch the match. The guests at the Moreleta Dutch Reformed church came from a nearby squatter camp, where small fires could be seen burning in the pitch black, to watch the football, eat a hot meal and drink warm drinks on a bitterly cold night.
After listening to a talk from a visiting pastor, the homeless queued up to have their faces painted in South African colours before sitting in long rows in the modern church in front of two large screens to watch the Group A match. * Agencies