OR Tambo abuzz with thrilled soccer fans

By Nthambeleni Gabara

Johannesburg - With only few hours left until the kick-off to the spectacular FIFA Confederations Cup, the OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday was abuzz with the arrival of ecstatic soccer fans.

During a visit by BuaNews to the airport, which is the main port of entry to the high volumes of international passengers, a crowd of over 700 Egyptian fans arrived flying their country's red, white and black flag high in support of their national team.

Standing next to the Egyptian fans, were the thrilled Italian soccer fans dressed in blue track-suits with the words "Italia" on the front. They were also proudly flying their country's green, white and red flag.

Both the Egyptian and Italian soccer teams were drawn into Group B along with Brazil and the United States of America.

Italy is the defending 2006 World Cup champions, while Egypt is the 2008 African Nations Cup champions.

Speaking to BuaNews on behalf of the 100 Italians fans, Massimo Ceravolo from Rome said during the games there will be a fervent chant by the Italian soccer fans to encourage the national team.

He said although they trust the national team coach, Marcelo Lippi and his players, they are sceptical about whether they can beat the 2006 Confederations Cup title holders, Brazil.

"We are scared of Brazil as usual, but we came here to support our national team. They will be able to surprise Brazil through our support.

"We have the best players in the world and with an experienced coach, we are hopeful that our national team will make us proud," he said.

Egyptian fan, Kareem Nagy said they feel comfortable to display their national flag in public since flag-flying to them symbolises patriotism to their country.

He said the Pharaohs (Egyptian national team), as they are affectionately known with the football circle, will not only make them happy, but it will also make the entire African continent proud during Confederations Cup.

Dr Nagy said they are hopeful that their formidable national team will beat both the US and Brazilian national teams.

"We are also one of the teams posing a big threat in Group B. We strongly believe that we will surprise Brazil by 2-0.

"Without underestimating the Americans, we just believe that it will be a walk-over for our national team when they clash," he said.

Both the Egyptian and Italian soccer fans expressed their satisfaction about the hospitality in South Africa.

Dr Nagy said: "before we jetted-off from our country, we were told that the South African law enforcement is weak however I now realise that it was a myth since I am feeling very safe and secured."

The first opening match of Egypt will be against Brazil at Vodacom Park Stadium in Bloemfontein on Monday at 4pm.

The 2009 Confederations Cup will kick-off on Sunday at Johannesburg's Coca-cola Park Stadium with clash between South Africa and the Asian champions, Iraq at 4pm. - BuaNews