Wednesday, September 2, 2015

United States v. Algeria

We headed back to Pretoria from Pilanesberg National Park and went straight to the US Embassy to attend a barbecue and pep rally for the US team, with the players' families all in attendance.  As we arrived, Shona was working on the face painting operation; we watched her do Drew Carey's face and took their photo together.  We chanted some DC United cheers for his benefit, but also expressed thanks for the fine example of community support that his Sounders have provided for the league.

Sam and Joe painted each other's faces, then collaborated to do mine.

 We also stopped by Susan's office in the embassy and admired the DC United flag she has hung (provided courtesy of DC United).  See her pictured with Craig.

Then, into the stadium.   The Algerian fans were also looking forward to the match, and there was nice camaraderie with the opposing fans.

Some of the local fans chose not to cheer for either team, but showed up in their own colors

The game began with more than 90 minutes of heart-breaking missed chances. 

We heard from fans sitting near us that England had gone up against Slovenia during the first half and were glumly contemplating watching other teams play in Rustenberg and Soccer City.  We had not seen the replay of the US goal that was called back for offsides; when I did, I  was distressed to learn that it TOO was a bad call, the second time in two games that bad call almost cost us advancement to the second round. But, that's soccer....

At first, the fans behind us had demanded that we sit down instead of standing, Screaming Eagles style, throughout the game, but as the US pressed on and on in the second half, our section stayed on their feet and chanted and yelled.  And then, at last, stoppage time glory for Landon Donovan and our US team.  Utter delirium in the stands.

Here is a photo of Elizabeth and Becka from Arlington, Virginia, who were right behind us,

plus other US fans

After the game, we headed to an African restaurant for dinner, figuring we could watch Ghana play Germany in the right environment.  But the place was filled with US fans.  One of our party ordered an African delicacy that we had been seeing on menus, Mopani worms, served with pap, the southern African version of grits, and a bottle of palm drink

The mopani worms look somewhat like caterpillars (in fact, I later learned they ARE caterpillars, and provide a significant source of protein in southern Africa).  A bit crunchy, and rather tasteless.    In fact, they were gross, and now that I have tried them, I don't need to do THAT again.

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