Historic day in Joburg

Chris Ziemer stands in front of the Netherlands’ team bus

By CHRIS ZIEMER

(Editor’s note: Chris Ziemer, Sonoma Academy athletic director and head girls soccer coach, is blogging for The Press Democrat at the World Cup in South Africa).

Friday June 11

Johannesburg –

A historic day!

Joburg is ready for history…

I was scheduled to be in Durban today but had a change of plans and now I’m in Joburg. I didn’t complain about the chance to be in Joburg on what headlines are saying will be remembered as one of the most important days in the history of South Africa.
It looks like we will be able to watch the game at one of the FanFests. At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the FanFests were almost as much fun as being live in the stadium and I’m looking forward to celebrating this historic day side-by-side with the people of South Africa.

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VWD…

we are driving through Joburg right now and it’s about 7:30 a.m. Sean, one of my colleagues from SportsMark, just came up with the saying VWD, which is quite fitting. Vuvuzelaing while driving, and there is a whole lot of it going on. You can start to sense the energy and excitement building and it’s still early

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Netherlands on the move…

We saw the Netherlands bus today as they are in Joburg in advance of their opening game vs. Denmark on June 14th. Their bus slogan is “don’t fear the top five, fear the Dutch eleven.”
I’m a big fan of the Dutch as my family has hosted hundreds of Dutch coaches over the past 15 years. Top level coaches, under the guidance of Frans Hoek, who is the former assistant coach of Ajax Amsterdam (during their Champions League title winning season), FC Barcelona, the Dutch National team and as of recently Bayern Munich where he will be Louis van Gaal’s assistant.
I’ve always been impressed with the Netherlands ability to consistently produce World Class players, especially with a country with such a small population. Although they have yet to win a World Cup title, their history over the years is nothing to be ashamed of and have provided the World Cup with some of the most attractive attacking soccer.
Having said all of that, you could argue that they should fear themselves as on occasion they have been their own worst enemy. Could this be their year?

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Nelson Mandela square…

This morning we drove through the Mandela square, which has an even more special meaning today as without his support and commitment to his country, the World Cup would not be kicking off in South Africa today.
Mandela is expected to be on hand at the game and should be a proud man in the stands, knowing his country truly loves and appreciates him, something which has been evident in every conversation I’ve had with people ranging from taxi drivers to fans I have met.

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Headlines from this morning’s paper In Johannesburg…
From The Times, which bills itself as the Paper for the People…

Let’s go! – the front cover with full page photo of South African fans clad in the Bafana Bafana jersies.

We’re standing on the threshold of history – page 3 which has President Zuma saying this is one of a few moments that will define South Africa’s history.

Going for the kill – back cover
Messi aims to please – Argentinian star wants to show country he can play as well for Argentina as he does for Barca

From The Star:

The World in Bafana’s hands – front cover with picture of the World Cup trophy being hoisted.

Next moment of greatness – front cover which speaks to June 11th, 2010 being a defining moment for the country.

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Word/phrase of the day:

Ayoba, which means fun in Zulu. With the World Cup finally kicking off – it’s Ayoba time!

My I’m at the World Cup in South Africa moment for the day – it would have to be waking up in Johannesburg knowing that today I will witness one of the most important moments in South African history.

Enjoy the game!