Durban has set the tone for the 2010 Fifa World Cup – with blaring vuzuzelas, drums and home-made instruments. The multicoloured seats of the Moses Mabhida stadium reflected Durban’s pride as supporters of all races cheered when Amazulu and Maritzburg United set the ball in motion to put the city’s almost R3-billion investment on the global sports map.

With all eyes on the venue to determine whether the state-of-the-art stadium is more than a “pretty face” with its gleaming white arch, sky-car and unique artwork, the city went out of its way to provide sufficient parking, easy access to seats and an increased number of information officers.  Although yesterday’s Premier Soccer League KwaZulu-Natal derby attracted less than half the stadium’s true capacity, with 22000 tickets sold, the Mexican wave made its rounds and the fans cheered as if they were watching a full 2010 Fifa World Cup match.

“For many people who came to today’s game, this is the closest that they will get to be a part of the World Cup.  “Although it is a local match, the World Cup spirit could really be felt in this stadium,” supporter Khalid Makuyi said.  Kobashni Ramsamy, a soccer enthusiast, told The Times that while she was very impressed with the stadium, more could be done to reduce congestion at the food stands and the country’s smoking in public bans should be enforced.

The city’s safety was also under the spotlight, but the high visibility of South African Police Services officers and Durban Metro Police in and around the stadium led to an incident-free event.  “Although the police in Durban are used to manning big events, we had to devise a new plan because this is a new stadium. Our efforts proved successful,” KwaZulu-Natal police spokeswoman Phindile Radebe said.

DATED: 29th November 2009