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Pretoria yet to join the party

PRETORIA, June 15 – Amid the din of vuvuzelas and the waves of green and yellow shirts flooding the host country, there is one spot in South Africa that seems to have been a bit slow on the uptake: the capital.While the rest of South Africa, and indeed the continent as a whole, goes World Cup crazy, life is trundling along at its usual languid pace in Pretoria.

That’s the verdict of the capital’s residents and visitors.

Face painter Kgomotjo Tolo, 24, has set up a stall in the Brooklyn Shopping Centre but he was hoping for a bit more business.

"It’s not what I was expecting, people seem a bit relaxed. The vibe isn’t there yet but there’s no rush, there’s only been a few games," he told AFP.

"I was expecting people to engage fully into this thing, to take part in the fan clubs but there are only a few people.

"But the foreign fans are great, they love the country, they love things here and they are friendly."

Fashion stylist Nicoleah Ogle, 35, came to Pretoria from Johannesburg to do some sourcing and she too has been surprised at how different the atmosphere is to her home city.

"It’s a bit quiet compared to the city centre of Johannesburg," she said, before revealing that Pretoria isn’t as calm as other places.

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"My cousin flew to Durban for the Germany (v Australia) game yesterday (Sunday) and he said: ‘is the World Cup even happening here?’.

"But Durban is a sleepy town."

Not everyone is in agreement, though, as taxi driver Kenneth Mhlanga, 40, from Johannesburg, was actually expecting fewer people.

Having come to Pretoria to bring a client to the Mozambique Embassy, he said: "I was thinking that maybe it would be different because it’s the first time (the World Cup has been held in Africa) but there’s more people than I thought.

"People keep on coming. I was picking them up from the airport yesterday. Different people keep arriving."

One of those coming from far and wide is Layssa Diop, who owns a tourism agency in Senegal and has brought children Gaelle, 14, and Babacar, 12, to the World Cup for an entire month.

They picked Pretoria in the hope of seeing as many games involving African teams as possible,

Their first game will be Cameroon-Denmark at the Loftus Versfeld stadium here on Saturday.

"We’re here to support the African teams," she said. "But we’ve not met many fans, just a few French and Spaniards."

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Mrs Diop said that she was having difficulties picking up tickets, though.

"We haven’t found many tickets, we wanted to go to Brazil-Ivory Coast but the only tickets we could find were the most expensive ones.

"We’ll try to find some for USA-Algeria."

One thing that does come out from the people here, though, is that they have faith in the continent’s teams to do them proud.

"We want to see them win, we have great hopes for Ghana and Cameroon, and Ivory Coast, although we haven’t seen them yet," said Mrs Diop.

"I’m not sure about South Africa and it will be tough for Algeria but we expect at least two teams to make the second round."

Ms Ogle had similar thoughts.

"It was exciting for Africa to see Ghana win (on Sunday), (African) supporters are even getting together on Facebook pages," she said.

"I have faith in Ghana and Ivory Coast. I hope Bafana Bafana will win at least one game, that would bring their confidence level up."

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Mr Tolo said he thinks that victory can come soon.

"They have a very good chance to beat Uruguay (on Wednesday), they’re on form, they’ve improved a lot."

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