Witness: World Cup success left me spellbound

Fri Jul 2, 2010 10:33am EDT
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By Gugulakhe Lourie

Gugulakhe Lourie is a Reuters correspondent based in Johannesburg who covers equities in southern Africa, specialising in telecommunications and construction.

Aged 34, he grew up in the small town of Bethal in the northeastern province of Mpumalanga. Before coming to Reuters in 2008, he worked at Finweek and Business Report newspapers.

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Just a few months ago, many critics said South Africa could never organize the first World Cup on African soil, and when it happened nobody here could quite believe it.

They thought they were dreaming.

South Africa has stunned the world and itself by delivering the globe's most-watched sporting spectacle with none of the chaos and disasters the pessimists, both local and international, had predicted.

There was huge, heart-stopping elation as tens of thousands of gold, green and red-clad fans settled in for the opening match of Africa's first World Cup at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg on June 11.

The mood was euphoric, and we are still on an adrenaline high despite the elimination of our own team, Bafana Bafana, in the first round.

I watched, spellbound, as the country showcased its beauty to hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors, themselves stunned by how wrong some of the advance reporting had been.   Continued...

<p>Fans hold up a South African flag before the 2010 World Cup opening match between South Africa and Mexico at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg June 11, 2010. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon</p>