PORT ELIZABETH (Reuters) - Sleepy Port Elizabeth turned orange and green on Friday as local and traveling fans turned out en masse to cheer for Brazil and the Netherlands ahead of their World Cup quarter-final clash.
Dressed in wigs and shirts bearing the names of Brazil’s Robinho and Holland’s Arjen Robben, waving flags and blowing vuvuzela horns, pumped-up fans have lingered around the stadium, the airport and the teams’ training ground to get a glimpse of their favorite players.
Dozens of female supporters gathered outside Brazil’s beach hotel, bearing placards pleading “Marry me, Kaka.”
Others like Brazilian Haroldo Castro and his son, Mikael, turned their World Cup trip into an ultimate African adventure, crossing the continent before arriving for their team’s games.
“Brazilians have a very bad image of Africa and through our reports we wanted to show that it’s a fantastic continent and that it’s safe,” the 58-year-old from Sao Paolo told Reuters.
Seeing gorillas in Uganda, the pyramids in Sudan and experiencing African hospitality along the way were some of the highlights that only a World Cup win could top, they said.
“Our ticket back is only after the final and we expect Brazil to get there,” said Castro’s 26-year-old son.
Organisers hope that the keenly awaited quarter-final will see crowds fill the stadium, which has seen thousands of seats left empty at matches thus far.
Although many believe Brazil to be the favorite to move to the semi-finals, Dutch supporters said their team have the skill to make it an incredible match.
“We definitely have a chance. If it gets to penalties, we will win, just wait,” said Arnold Arts from Venlo in Holland.
Thousands of Holland supporters gathered at the local fan site, turning it into a sea of bright orange — their royal colors — before marching toward the stadium.
Those remaining at the fan park will be entertained by local artists and giant puppets.
Even South Africans, who saw their own team eliminated in the first round, dressed up in colors of various teams still part of the tournament, be they Brazil, Ghana, Germany or Spain.
“The World Cup is in our country — we have to support everyone,” said Sibo Zungu, a 31-year-old civil engineer, who drove more than 1,000 km from Richards Bay to watch the game.
Editing by Steve Addison