One day away from the most important match in the last two years, and we say goodbye to Swaziland and hot-foot it (well, hot-tyre it) to Jo’berg. Our plan was to try and get to Nelspruit to take in the afternoon game between Italy and New Zealand, but we have some trouble on the border crossing. They look at our Spanish passports – Pantzov and Arsic – they are not Spanish names! Are you sure you are not East German spies? We tell them that our mothers are Spanish and we live in Barcelona, and anyway the two Germanies merged twenty years ago and are currently playing together in Port Elizabeth. But their films are 30 years out of date – they are just showing George Smiley this week! – and they hold us for three hours before the head of customs turns up to sort things out. We give him a couple of the wonderful Soccer-Spain T-shirts which we have brought with us (a snip at €9.95!), and after promising to send them a few of the latest Tom Cruise videos we are on our way!
By now though it is too late to get to Nelspruit, and anyway Goran has left the map back at the hotel. So we turn on Traba’s “Sat Nav” which Mr Amabuza told us was state of the art, but he must have bought it from the same guy who sells films to the Swaziland border guards! We type in “Johannesburg” and a voice tells us “I have no idea at all, I am completely lost! Why don’t you ask a policeman?” So we drive round until we find a likely looking roadside café, which is just about to show the match. We see the highlights from the game between Paraguay and Slovakia which Paraguay won 2-0 (another win for a South American team!), and settle down to watch the reigning world champions Italy. But there is another surprise, New Zealand take the lead! May have been a bit offside, but what the heck, and Italy only equalise when De Rossi wins a penalty with a half pike with twist. It seems the Kiwis were inspired by the Aussies draw which was inspired by the Kiwis draw in the first place, and if it goes on like this we could have an Australia New Zealand final! Anyone fancy a bet on that?
So we carry on towards Jo’berg, but it is getting dark, the Sat Nav has given up trying to find where we are and is singing old Zulu war chants, and the weather is closing in. We pull up at a motel a few miles from the capital and check in for the night. Plenty of time to find a better place tomorrow. “Do you like the Beatles?”, the man at the reception says. “Yes, We Love You and all that!”. OK then, I’ll put you in room nine. Turns out that the beetles in room nine are the size of your fist, but we are too tired to care. Just time for a quick curry of something that is difficult to identify (could be the beetles?), then back to the room for Brazil versus Ivory Coast.
The picture isn’t great, Brazil are in green (and that’s the faces!) and the Ivory Coast keep changing from purple to black and white, and we can only get a clear screen with Goran holding on to the antenna balanced on the back of one of the chairs. But we see enough to know that we’d rather avoid Brazil in the next round, with Sevilla’s own Luis Fabiano sticking away a couple in a 3-1 win. Kaká gets sent off near the end for stopping someone from bumping in to him, which we didn’t know was a sending off offence – have FIFA changed the rules again without telling us? Next thing we know burping and farting will be red-carded – Goran wouldn’t last five minutes if that happens! Anyway early night and on to find Ellis Park for tomorrow’s big game. Probably won’t be able to sleep tonight worrying about it. It’s a real responsibility supporting Spain!