Fever pitch run on Cup tickets

STANDING in the queue since 8pm on Wednesday night certainly paid off for a lucky soccer World Cup enthusiast.

STANDING in the queue since 8pm on Wednesday night certainly paid off for a lucky soccer World Cup enthusiast.

After the 13-hour wait Goodwill Mtshayise walked out of Maponya Mall's ticketing centre the envy of hopeful ticket buyers still stuck in the queue.

Some were excited and others gloomy - but Mtshayise was completely over the moon.

He bought 16 tickets worth R3 880 and had them draped around his neck the way a proud Olympian displays his medals.

A staunch Bafana Bafana supporter, Mtshayise said yesterday: "This is our World Cup and it is here for the first time. Africa might never have another opportunity to host this tournament, so we have to get out there and show our faces."

Mtshayise said he would be attending the games with his wife and two children.

Former Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates legend Marks Maponyane was also present.

He said the beginning of over-the-counter sales "brings with it the real feeling of the World Cup".

"The World Cup is the single biggest spectacle in the world. It even reduces grown men to tears at the sight of one measly ticket."

Maponyane said he hoped to buy tickets for "at least seven games, including the opening game and France versus Bafana on June 22 at Vodacom Park in the Free State.

He predicted that South Africa would reach the last 16 but would not go beyond because "we are not world class".

Maponya Mall's ticketing centre manager Richard Lalla compared the long queues to the 1994 elections.

"It's a wonderful experience," he said.

Lalla said it was not strange that 500000 tickets were yet to be bought just 55 days before the start of the tournament because the "online method was not friendly to locals".

Lalla also put paid to speculations that each ticketing centre would be allocated a number of tickets.

"It is all on a first come first serve basis," he said.

And in KwaZulu-Natal technical glitches - with printers taking longer than expected to print tickets and computers slowing up - did not deter the spirits of the province's soccer fans.

People started queuing on Wednesday night, some bringing sleeping bags and camping chairs.

There were long queues at the Gateway Shopping Mall and the Suncoast Casino.

Mondli Khumalo of Umlazi was the first person in line - having arrived the night before.

"I was here at 7pm and was the first person to arrive. I brought along my nightclothes."

In Cape Town a 64-year-old man, who had come by himself, collapsed and died while waiting to buy Cup tickets.

Chaos reigned supreme at Fifa's ticket sales in Pretoria's Brooklyn Mall yesterday.

The police tactical response team was called in and used pepper spray in a bid to restrain thousands of frustrated soccer fans trying to force their way into the centre. Many spent the night at the centre.

Visibly exhausted Sphiwe Dube of Muckleneuck, Pretoria, cracked a smile after securing nine tickets - for R9165 - after a 17-hour wait.

"I knew it was going to be chaotic so I decided to come here the previous night," Dube said. "I spent more than nine hours in the queue.

"It is now all systems go for me and I am just waiting for the games to begin."

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