Andrew Norfolk, Cape Town-
So how nervous are you feeling?
As the sun rises over Cape Town today there's a deceptive sense of calm
about the city. I gaze over the rooftops from our balcony to see boats
resting on a limpid bay, a slight morning haze softening the hills in the
Most of the 30,000 England fans are still in bed, sleeping off last night's
serious partying. When they wake, the countdown to tonight's kick-off will
I sit here with a bubbling sense of anticipation tinged, because this is
England, with a gnawing dread that it's all going to go horribly wrong. Only
a game? You have to be kidding.
So no pressure then, boys. When Fabio finally tells you who's playing, you
go out there and enjoy yourselves. We'll be the ones in the stands, singing
our hearts out and doing the worrying for you.
Do or die, must-win, fate of nation hangs in balance, etc. And on a selfish
level, the outcome of this evening's match will determine the future of our
It's all be planned, you see, on the basis that England win Group C. We've
already paid for our accommodation in Rustenburg for the last-16 match and
Johannesburg for the quarter-finals. Finishing second would cost us a bundle
of money and create a logistical nightmare. Coming third, or worse, does not
even bear thinking about.
More immediately, we need a win because this is a city that deserves the
joyous celebrations that would surely follow on the glitzy Waterfront and
along the bars and clubs of ever-so-slightly seedy Long Street. The recent
memory of post-match Rustenburg is a dark place we have no wish to revisit.
We took the cable car to the top of Table Mountain yesterday. The view of
the city below took the breath away. Its residents have proved wonderful
hosts. They are friendly, excited to have the World Cup on their doorstep
and desperate for nothing to go wrong.
Linda, owner of the apartment that we booked through the excellent
rentalscapetown.com, went out of her way to makes us welcome and gave us
great tips about bars, restaurants and sightseeing musts. She did not know I
was a journalist and we have fallen in love with her city.
Police and uniformed security officials are on every street corner. And they
are not merely a reassuring presence. When we stumbled out of a Long Street
club at 4am with about as much chance of finding our way home as drunken
rats adrift in the Atlantic, one of them kindly insisted on walking
alongside us for the entire 15-minute journey.
We sensed their hope and pride as the national anthem played before South
Africa's match with Uruguay, shared the pricked-bubble sense of deflation
that came with a 3-0 defeat that looks certain to end their hopes of making
it beyond the group stage.
Where they have gone, and seem likely to be joined by France, England must
not follow. Cue stomach already knotted with anxiety. Yet it's only Algeria,
for goodness sake. What could possibly go wrong?
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