World Cup is warming up as Bolton Raider heads to PE

Richard Jackson is blogging throughout the World Cup as he travels around South Africa from Cape Town to Johannesburg. You can follow his journey through the ‘Bolton Raider’ facebook page and on http://www.subsidesports.com/

It’s been a fabulous week here in Cape Town and whilst much of what has happened on the field has been a little underwhelming, my first taste of Africa has been nothing short of incredible. No amount of superlatives can explain the atmosphere that has gripped the nation – the celebrations are quite simply relentless.

I have nothing but praise for how the tournament has been conducted here, with an unprecedented amount of security both in the city centre and the magnificent Green Point Stadium. There is a genuine feeling in Cape Town that this is an opportunity for South Africa to show how far it has come since the dark days of apartheid and the ability this competition has to unite people cannot be understated. Even watching the England v USA game surrounded by American’s was not enough to dampen our spirits – what is happening here is about so much more than football.

Of course tragic tales of muggings and worse will come out of this tournament, although these must be taken in context. It should not be forgotten that this is a country with deep problems of poverty and unemployment; in many ways it is remarkable that the world’s most beloved tournament can be staged in South Africa at all. As we set off for the next leg of our journey towards Port Elizabeth I have come to realise that the case of my missing shoes is little short of insignificant , although that is a story for another day.

Last night we were lucky enough to see World Champions Italy begin their title defence, albeit in a rather timid fashion. Whilst the Italian’s enjoyed the lions share of possession an organised and hard working Paraguay side fully deserved the point. They did not resort to the ‘park the bus’ tactics that some expected, but left two genuine strikers leading the line even after taking the lead. But for an impressive performance from Fabio Cannavaro they may have claimed all three points, although the captain’s seemingly telepathic ability to read the game shut down any attacks time and again. Seeing him live was more than enough to make up for Pirlo’s absence – at 36 he is still one of the best defenders in South Africa.

The last word this morning however has to go to the People’s Republic of Korea. In their first World Cup outing since England lifted the trophy in 1966 they played with terrific commitment and intensity against a far superior Brazilian team. Even after two beautifully made goals from Micon and Elano there was no let up in their approach and with the final whistle approaching a superb Korean move deservedly resulted in Ji Yun-nam’s lashing the ball past Julio Cesar. Brazil held on for the victory, but PRK send out a very clear message, that there days in the footballing wilderness and over. Ronaldo and Drogba have more than just Brazil to worry about.

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