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Johannesburg live: Ghana versus Germany


Germany wins against Ghana

23/06/2010: World Cup Fever – Ghana versus Germany 

Sometimes you can be your own fortune’s architect:

Two important content providers happened to come to Johannesburg for the World Cup. One of them from India, an opportunity not to miss, when else could we meet in person.

Their stay in Johannesburg coincided with Germany playing Ghana in Soccer City. That alone sounded like a great chance to catch some World Cup action with some fellow Germans.

I remembered that I had some tickets to follow Germany. I had applied for them before the draw and, as it turned out that Germany did not play one game in Cape Town, had almost returned them.

But I could have only handed them back in a bulk and something in the back of my head told me to hold on a little longer…

Now knowing I’d be in Johannesburg for the Germany game, I made my way to the official FIFA ticketing centre. With very weak knees. Would my ticket still be there? Yes! 2 minutes later I left with my entry ticket to a lifetime experience.

I could only hope I’d get there in time however, as I heard horror stories how long it took to get to the opening game: 4 hours! Some people had missed the start of the match.

I decided to try the park and ride method to make it to Soccer City. I was told Park Station would be a good spot to catch the train from. This turned out to be Johannesburg’s central railway station.

So I did hit some traffic, but only to blow the vuvuzela and my rental car’s horn to have some World Cup atmosphere on the way. Stuck on the M1 I asked my GPS to recalculate and made it to Park Station in a flash.

As I saw on the map I was literally above the railway tracks, I asked for directions. Two rather dodgy looking people (What do I know – this is Johannesburg!) happily gestured to drive into a dodgy driveway (How would I know where that could lead in Johannesburg!), telling me something about parking.

Rather reluctant I took the risk: Luckily there were other drivers who had chosen this route and once more I was sitting in a traffic jam. But indeed there was a light at the end of the tunnel, which looked like a huge parking lot. I was directed to carry on driving, desperately looking for a remaining parking space. When I found one and got out of the car, I realised where I was – directly on the platform!

Platform no 12 to be precise, from which, incredibly enough, the train to Soccer City departed. So I got out of my car right onto the train. Genius! If this is not the most efficient form of park and ride!

On the train we crossed the highway a couple of times. Not knowing how bad traffic usually is in Johannesburg, let alone during the World Cup, it was only then that I realised this was the way forward. Literally. The M1 was at a standstill.

Stepping out at Soccer City I could not believe that indeed I was there. Going through the metal detectors I still somehow waited for some kind of obstacle, but I made it through and my happy journey continued. The first ticket check had been placed before walking over the bridge, making it a smooth procession.

The second ticket check was at the revolving gates, where I had to insert my ticket to be laser read. Wow! Having taken pictures of the stadium that looks like a humming space ship ready for take-off, I felt like entering the world of Star Trek.

Not for long though, as the Germans were in full swing, singing their chants and just around the corner the Ghana football fans were having their party. The atmosphere was fantastic.

Finding my seat, I was surprised to see that both seats next to me were empty. Just when I started to get worried that out of a sold out stadium I’m the only moron with empty seats next to me, a fellow German came along.

A short intro revealed the incredible: Not only are we from the same area in Germany, we also happen to be neighbours back in Cape Town. Having found my new best friend, we were ready to share the excitement of the match.

Which didn’t happen, as neither of the teams managed to break through. A dreadful first half, which left me pondering during half time: ‘What if…???’ Not able to think this thought any further. Even Christian admitted that he started to get worried – if Germany didn’t win, they wouldn’t make it to the next round.

He checked the score of Australia versus Serbia, which provided good news: Australia was beating Serbia. Incredible, how did they manage to pull that one off?

In the second half we were joined by Heiko from Namibia who made me feel complete by finally taking up that other empty seat next to me. Thus shielded by my two strong Germans we were ready to root our lungs out for Germany – it just had to happen, they just had to make it, it was simply a must, that goal.

And it came – there it was, right in front of our eyes: The ball went in and we went over the moon. We danced and cheered and hugged, our outburst of joy just wouldn’t stop. Such a relief, it simply spread in complete happiness throughout the entire stadium.

Ghana was still strong, but we simply knew there was not a chance they would get close to the German goal. Happily we kept on celebrating until the final whistle.

Only to be joined by the Ghanaians, as thanks to Australia’s late come-back, it was them who went through to the next round. When the good news spread, we realised: We were all winners tonight. And thus, the cheering and chanting and celebrating and partying just continued on and on and on.

When we were thrown out of the stadium, we still celebrated outside the stadium. And when we were thrown out there, we took the party to the next place.

I had a merry journey home with the train dropping me off right in front of my car and my GPS getting me home safe and sound.

What an experience! I still can’t believe that I can say: I was there!

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