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• Saturday, July 03rd, 2010

JOHANNESBURG – Tension captured the air as Spanish and Paraguayan fans watched their teams miss dramatic back-to-back penalty kicks that changed the face of the final game of the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals Saturday night.

The previous 57 minutes held little excitement for fans, as both teams remained deadlocked before an onrush of offense brought sudden life into the contest at historic Ellis Park Stadium.

After the dust settled, Spanish forward David Villa hit the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute against South American rival Paraguay, leaving a final score of 1-0.

“We had all sorts of problems in this match; we knew it would be very tough because Paraguay has been playing well throughout the entire World Cup,” Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta told reporters. “They made life difficult for all their opponents, and this match was decided with one quick move.”

Villa’s goal came off a rebound of a blocked attempt by Iniesta. The midfielder’s goal ricocheted off both goalposts before settling in the net, securing Spain’s victory. The goal was Villa’s fifth in five games, placing him atop the leader board for individual goals scored at the Cup.

The penalty-kick drama in the 57th minute was triggered when Spanish defender Gerard Pique received a yellow card for wrestling Paraguayan forward Oscar Cardozo to the ground. Cardozo took the resulting spot kick, but his scoring attempt was blocked by Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas diving to his left.

Less than a minute later, a yellow card was given to Paraguayan defender Alcaraz for overly aggressive play toward Villa, after the Spaniard’s darting run into the penalty area. Xabi Alonso calmly slotted the penalty kick, but his attempt disallowed because at least three Spanish players rushed into the penalty area before the shot was taken. Spain’s second shot was blocked and put back into play by goalkeeper Justo Villar.

There were a few teasingly close scoring chances for both sides throughout the game, as Spain barely missed the Paraguayan net and Paraguay briefly celebrated what was quickly deemed an offside goal five minutes before the half.

Paraguay’s strong defense, led by Antolín Alcaraz and Paulo da Silva, kept a tight rein on Spain’s offense, allowing both teams to leave the field at halftime scoreless.

Iniesta, voted man of the match, was focused on Wednesday’s semifinal matchup in Durban against Germany, which defeated Argentina earlier Saturday.

“It must be a tremendous motivation for them, but we too are at the top of our game,” Iniesta said. “We’re keen to progress further; it will be a match between two teams that like to keep the ball, and I think it will be a great match.”

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• Saturday, July 03rd, 2010

Photographs by Yan Zhao

JOHANNESBURG – Germany marched over Argentina to advance to the World Cup semifinals Saturday afternoon. The match, a repeat of the 2006 quarterfinals that Germany won in a penalty kick shootout, was expected to be closely contested this time as well. Instead, a three-pronged attack by Argentine forwards Gonzalo Higuaín, Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi was unable to answer Germany’s four goals.

The Germans leapt ahead early with a 3rd-minute goal from midfielder Thomas Müller, who headed a free kick past goalkeeper Sergio Romero. Die Mannschaft did not let up after the quick goal, keeping the ball in the Argentine half of the field with aggressive attacks from the wings.

Argentina began to muster up some strikes of their own after the 30-minute mark, but several saves from German goalie Manuel Neuer prevented an equalizing goal. Argentina appeared to have scored after Lionel Messi’s 36th-minute free kick, but Argentine players were called offside, negating the goal. Germany was knocking on the door again before halftime, but forward Lukas Podolski and Müller did not convert scoring opportunities.

In the second half Argentina played with a sense of urgency. Midfielder Angel Di María joined Tevez, Messi and Higuaín in an assault on the German goal, but after 20 minutes of blistering play Germany’s defense held strong. A 68th-minute goal tapped in by forward Miroslav Klose quieted Argentina’s attacks, and a second goal by defender Arne Friedrich seven minutes later further took the steam out of the Albicelestes.
Usually confident moving the ball forward, Argentina’s offense repeatedly struggled to maintain possession and take shots on goal in the waning minutes of the match. The final nail in the coffin for Diego Maradona’s squad came in the 89th minute, when Klose fired in his second goal from deep in the penalty area.

With the South American favorites making their exit, Germany will next face Spain, which defeated Paraguay 1-0 in the late match Saturday. Joachim Löw’s team will have to win without the help of Müller, however. In addition to his first-half goal the 20-year-old midfielder also earned his second yellow card, barring him from play in the next match.

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• Friday, July 02nd, 2010

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JOHANNESBURG – Long after the Uruguayans left the field of Soccer City Stadium Friday night, the Black Stars of Ghana remained on the turf unable to accept that their World Cup run was over. Some, like forward Asamoah Gyan, covered their faces to hide the flowing tears.

The dream was so close, but a missed penalty in the final minute of extra time, and two more in a penalty shootout, ended Ghana’s hope of becoming the first African team to reach a World Cup semifinal.

The image of a sobbing Gyan, who emerged as Ghana’s go-to scorer in the absence of the injured Michael Essien, and two teammates consoling him captured the hearts of fans who showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.

Gyan missed the penalty kick in the final second of extra time, which would have put Ghana into the history books. He converted Ghana’s first penalty in the shootout, but skipper John Mensah and substitute Dominic Adiyiah had their attempts saved. Moments later, the Uruguayans gathered around Sebastián Abreu, who clinched the victory with his penalty. Uruguay will face a powerful Dutch team in the semifinals Tuesday in Cape Town, after the Netherlands knocked off tournament favorite Brazil 2-1 earlier Friday.

Most of the 84,000 in attendance in Soccer City Friday night were silenced by Abreu’s goal, as the realization set in that there would be no record set by an African team on the continent.

Then came the applause, which was reciprocated by Kevin Prince-Boateng, the only player who held his head high on the Ghanaian team.

“We are all Ghana tonight,” said Teofilo Chau, a Ghana fan from Mozambique, after the match. “We are sad, but we are very proud that they did well.”

Hafsa Kipozei from Uganda said it was difficult walking away with the loss after Gyan’s missed penalty, but the Black Stars should still be commended for their effort.

“We should be proud of the African team because they’ve tried the best,” said Kipozei. “We’ve lost. There’s nothing we can do, but we had to fight.”

Ghana fought to take the lead at halftime when Sulley Muntari scored at the end of the first half. But its midfield, which got off to a good start in the first half, began to struggle, as Uruguay began to dominate the match.

Forward Diego Forlán put his team back in the match, scoring a goal that completely beat goalie Richard Kingson in the 55th minute. Both teams traded several good looks at goal until the end of regulation time.

In overtime, Ghana found its rhythm once again and had more opportunities to score. The last came in the final minute when Luis Suárez was sent off for a hand ball on Adiyiah’s header, giving Gyan the penalty kick, which sailed high and bounced off the top of the crossbar.

A lot could be said about what could have been if Gyan had not missed or if key midfielder Andre Ayew had been able to play (Ayew sat out the game with two yellow cards), but few left Soccer City disappointed at Ghana’s overall performance.

“It fills my heart with pride to know my team’s made it to the semifinals and we might go to the finals and win,” said Uruguayan fan Alejandro Malan. “Ghana played superbly, then it’s just we got lucky, because penalties are just like skill and pure luck. But Ghana really played a good game.”

The Black Stars may find consolation in improving on their previous performance at the 2006 World Cup, where they lost in the second round. For many fans, the quarterfinal placing is an indication that the team could advance to a final four spot in Brazil 2014.

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• Thursday, July 01st, 2010

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Video by Kristen Swilley

Nearly 3 million fans have attended World Cup matches up to the quarterfinal round, and even more have tuned in at FIFA fan parks in various cities. As a result, South Africa has experienced a $1.2 billion boost to its economy.

Those were the words of Danny Jordaan, CEO of the World Cup organizing committee, at an informal FIFA press briefing Thursday to update the media on the progress and impact of the tournament so far.

Jordaan expressed his confidence that the tournament will surpass the 3 million stadium entry mark by the completion of the tournament, making it the best attended World Cup since the United States hosted in 1994.

The influx of fans also means a boost to South Africa’s economy, which Jordaan said has exceeded expectations reset after the global economic crisis of 2008 threatened the original number of expected visitors.

“In the first two weeks, the Department of Home Affairs released figures of numbers of people that came through and they released a figure of 364,000,” Jordaan said. “Within those two weeks we had 6.5 billion rand injected in the economy. I think now it’s over 9 billion rand.”

He said the projection at that time was 11.2 billion rand, or $1.5 billion, spent in South Africa by tourists or fans during the World Cup. “So we are on track, going back to the original projections in terms of the economic impact of the event on our economy,” Jordaan said.

Former Brazilian star Cafu made a surprise appearance at the briefing and echoed Jordaan’s comments on the success of the event.

“I believe that you’ve gone beyond expectations, and this is great,” Cafu said through an interpreter. “This is just to show that if you’ve got the determination and you continue striving for what you want, you can achieve what you have achieved.”

The briefing was moderated by Rich Mkhondo, chief of communications for the South African World Cup organizing committee, and gave the press an opportunity to ask questions specifically about the country’s performance as host nation.

One of such concerns included how South Africa would handle the transportation of visitors to games in a timely manner.

“There have been some glitches, but as the World Cup matches progressed, we were able to move people into stadia on time,” said Bheki Nkosi, the Gauteng Province transport minister. “And that for us is the most central thing. That when the games begin, each and every one of those games must have at least 90 to 96 percent of the people seated in the stadia.”

The premier of Gauteng, Nomvula Mokonyane, commended South Africans for rallying behind the flag and national anthem, urging residents to sustain their patriotism after the Cup is over. Mokonyane also challenged the country’s public and private sectors to continue working together to improve the economy.

“The other thing that we want to carry is to work in a manner that promotes partnership between government, the public and the private sector,” Mokonyane said. “There’s never been this kind of response.”

With the income generated from the tournament, Jordaan said South Africa will continue to focus on improving infrastructure and increasing tourism. He said there has already been talk about hosting the Olympic Games and other major events.

“With the incredible experience of hosting this World Cup, I’m sure the country will translate into future actions,” Jordaan said.

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• Thursday, July 01st, 2010

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Video by Kristen Swilley

Premier Nomvula Mokonyane of Gauteng Province embraced South Africa’s new name for the lone African team remaining in the World Cup while beckoning the country to rally behind Ghana.

“We are mobilizing residents of Gauteng, people of South Africa to rally behind Ghana,” Mokonyane said at a press briefing Thursday. “We will be wearing our T-shirts tomorrow and raising the flag of Ghana, and also giving a message that says we will want to see Ghana going to the finals.”

Fans are not lost on the significance of Ghana becoming the first African team to reach the semifinals of a World Cup, and doing so in South Africa would signal an even greater impact on the progress of soccer in the continent.

After defeating the United States to advance to the quarterfinals, defender Samuel Inkoom ran a victory lap on the field waving both a Ghanaian and South African flag. South Africans have since renamed the team “BaGhana BaGhana,” a play on South Africa’s nickname Bafana Bafana. And many Africans have also started referring to the team as the Black Stars of Africa, slightly altering its own nickname.

Mokonyane said she believes in Ghana’s potential to go all the way.

“This has been a World Cup of miracles and surprises, and Ghana might surprise either Argentina or Brazil,” Mokonyane said.

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• Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

FAMU, Shantou and photo students at the exhibition – Photography by Rachel Gadson

JOHANNESBURG ─ South Africa’s World Cup happy ever after has overshadowed the country’s primary issues, which will still exist after the 2010 Cup champion is crowned. Luckily, the Market Photo Workshop in central Johannesburg’s Newtown Precinct will not allow foreign visitors to overlook the reality behind the fairytale.

The school is holding an exhibition until July 15 that will highlight everyday South African life. Some of the exhibition photos are available to view at the nearby Market Theatre and others greet visitors on the lobby walls and Apple computers in the school’s foyer.

John Fleetwood, head of the Market Photo Workshop, said the World Cup was the perfect occasion for the exhibition, titled “World Cup Rural and Urban Photo Diary,” because it has brought a rare mixture of people to the country.

“It is the ideal place to run this project that uses the platform of the World Cup, but tries and put forward photographs of the ordinary, mundane, the margin,” Fleetwood said.

The exhibition portrays the country’s social duality between economically disadvantaged and upper-class citizens.

“I’d like to stick the point that South Africa is a poor country,” Fleetwood said, “and I think often there is such a division between first world and third world within this country that people think everybody is fine, but outside of the urban centers there is incredible poverty.”

About a dozen student photographers were chosen for the exhibition, and all of the students brought their own impressions of South Africa.

One body of work, “Alternative Kids,” draws attention to energetic teenagers with all their idle time, indistinct tattoos and name-brand jeans.

Another series by Mack Magagane, a Market Photo Workshop alumnus, illuminates the obscure shapes and views of Johannesburg architecture using lighting control, or lack thereof.

Magagane said his series raises questions about the state of the city’s buildings, because the government has provided money for the World Cup without thinking about the appearance of the city.

“This is about our people’s state of living, and during this World Cup, which is generating a lot of money, how come people are still living under such structure,” Magagane said.

Fleetwood described the exhibition as a bond between the students and their subjects.

“My interest is in showing personal stories,” Fleetwood said, “personal interaction between photographers and subjects that I think will be able to tell a story.”

After July 15 the photos will be documented in a small publication alongside text provided by researchers in anthropology, to examine the country’s social conditions.

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• Monday, June 28th, 2010

JOHANNESBURG – A rousing cheer from Argentine fans clashed with a chorus of boos and shouts of indignation as a goal by Argentine striker Carlos Tévez that appeared to be offside was allowed.

The controversial call made for tension on the field as well as in the stands as players skeptical of the allowed goal angrily accosted the referee. It was an ominous start to what would prove to be a successful offensive game for undefeated Argentina.

“The first goal that was an offside goal changed the whole game,” said Mexican fan Jousef Jerade. “Then a mistake by our very good defender changed things. I still think that the score is not what really happened; it should have been a whole different score.”

Mexico’s defense struggled to shut down Argentina’s attacking midfielders, allowing key players like Lionel Messi to create multiple chances. After goalkeeper Oscar Pérez rushed out of the goal to block Tévez’s first attempt on goal, Messi was able to push the ball back toward the goal, setting Tévez up for his first goal in the 26th minute of the match.

The powerhouse trio of Messi, Tévez and forward Gonzalo Higuaín proved to play a huge role in setting the pace of Argentina’s game. A minor blunder by defender Ricardo Osorio led to an easy goal for Higuaín, who only had to get past the goalie to put Argentina in the lead by two in the 33rd minute.

It wasn’t a complete shutout for Mexico, however, with forward Javier Hernández securing a left-footed goal for Mexico with 19 minutes left in the game.

Argentina is already looking ahead to its next match, as coach Diego Maradona said Argentina will have to field the right players to ensure a win in Cape Town Saturday against its European rival Germany.

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• Sunday, June 27th, 2010

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Video by Wandoo Makurdi and He Long

RUSTENBURG, South Africa — Defender Samuel Inkoom raised the Ghanaian and South African flags in the air as he celebrated his team’s win with a victory lap around the field. The poignant gesture symbolized African unity and support of the Black Stars’ 2-1 win over the United States.

Saturday night was not the first time Ghana has thwarted the American team, as the West Africans also eliminated the United States from the first round of the 2006 World Cup after an identical 2-1 loss to Ghana.

The Americans have repeatedly played from behind to secure narrow wins in the last moments of the game. However, the U.S. defense had a slow recovery from the Black Stars’ attacking offense, which earned its first goal in the fifth minute on the legs of Kevin-Prince Boateng.

“We didn’t take advantage of our chances, so the better team won,” said disappointed American fan Peter Talluto. “Congratulations, it’s been a good run. Four years from now, hopefully we’ll rebound and do a little bit better.”

Ghana’s fast-paced style and strategy proved to be effective in moving the team forward with young standout players like Asamoah Gyan, who also scored the game-winner in the 93rd minute. Forward André Ayew, the 20-year-old son of soccer legend Abédi Pelé, also rose to the occasion and was named man of the match.

The young team has progressed under the leadership of Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac, who helped Ghana finish second in the African Cup of Nations in Angola earlier this year.

“Ghana has shown that Africans are also capable of doing something like any other country in the world,” shouted one elated Ghanaian fan as he exited the stadium.

“Ghana did it for us,” yelled another passer-by. “I’m South African, so I’m happy for the African country if they can take this.”

It appeared the U.S. team could pull off another come-from-behind win when midfielder Landon Donovan converted a penalty kick in the second half. However, unlike the team’s memorable comebacks from one goal down to tie England, two goals down to tie Slovenia and a stoppage-time win against Algeria, it wasn’t enough to secure a win.

“We can’t keep starting games like that,” U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra told “We pushed and pushed to make comebacks, and today we tried our luck and it just ran out. I think we kept going; today just wasn’t our day.”

Ghana will face Uruguay in Johannesburg on July 2 in hopes of becoming the first African team to reach the semifinals of the World Cup.

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• Friday, June 25th, 2010

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PRETORIA-If you’ve tuned into a U.S. match in the past three weeks you know Landon Donovan is a talented midfielder with a knack for last-minute goals, Clint Dempsey is a versatile attacking player and Tim Howard is a reliable veteran goalie. What you probably don’t know is which of these players has a photographic memory, which one whined all night after hurting his leg in high school and who is incredibly quiet off the field. The siblings of the U.S. team’s star players share some interesting insight on some of America’s best-known soccer stars.

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• Friday, June 25th, 2010

Photograph by Clarece Polke

JOHANNESBURG — Green has become a color with versatile meaning and uses in South Africa: it is one of the colors of the national soccer team, Bafana Bafana, and is also color of the well-manicured grass in each of the country’s 10 World Cup stadiums. More recently, however, it has become the color of the government’s efforts to incorporate environmentally friendly practices into everyday World Cup festivities.

The FIFA Green Goal Program is implemented through South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs. National environmental volunteer Mabogo Colert is a Johannesburg resident hired by the department to increase public awareness and involvement in reducing energy consumption. Volunteers also encourage citizens to use water more efficiently and practice responsible tourism and environmentally friendly infrastructure during the World Cup.

Examples of responsible tourist practices include carpooling instead of using taxis, not littering after games or concerts, using electricity and water wisely and recycling plastic bottles.

“In some ways, we cannot stop the pollution, but we can minimize it,” Colert said about the goal behind her message. “Sometimes people do things without knowing what they’re doing and that’s a problem. If you make them aware, they can minimize what they’re doing.”

Norman Magame, a 20-year-old resident of Orlando West, Soweto, agreed adding that sustaining the environment has not been a priority for many black South Africans. However, he believes the issue goes beyond lack of knowledge to basic cultural differences.

“Blacks don’t understand the importance of the environment; the only thing we care about is fun,” Magame said. “The kind of culture we have, we believe in cutting down trees and killing animals. If we had something to teach the people there’s more to life than cutting down trees, then maybe it would change the situation.”
Albi Modise, chief director of communications for the national Department of Environmental Affairs, said in an e-mail message that the program allocates a limited number of volunteers to each province. Volunteers are responsible for raising questions around the initiative in addition to conducting surveys addressing social, environmental and economic matters.

Thendo Mkuya, another national environmental volunteer involved in the campaign, said in an e-mail message that there is a gap in effective communication between the younger and older generation.

“When it comes to environmental terms, they are not there in our indigenous languages,” Mkuya said. “To explain it fully to old people is a challenge, but to the young adult it’s very effective because some of them already know about global warming or climate change that we are facing.”

Mkuya, who is fluent in Tshivenda and English, said language is a barrier not just between old and young, but between various tribes. Volunteers, most of whom are from KwaZulu-Natal Province, have to work together to compile language skills to ensure they can effectively communicate with locals in every region they visit. Modise said volunteers were chosen based on their enrollment in environment-related subjects at a postsecondary institution, and that the program is aimed at providing temporary jobs under the government’s broader agenda of poverty alleviation, skills development and temporary job creation.

To participate in South Africa’s green initiative visit The Green Passport where you can calculate your carbon footprint and learn how to offset the footprint against a select project.

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