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It was incredible, says Infantino of his first Soweto derby

Fifa president, entourage wowed by ‘great atmosphere’

Nkareng Matshe Sports editor
Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi, CAF President Patrice Motsepe and FIFA president Gianni Infantino during the DStv Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates on Saturday
Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi, CAF President Patrice Motsepe and FIFA president Gianni Infantino during the DStv Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates on Saturday
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has described his first Soweto derby experience as “incredible”.

Infantino arrived in SA at the weekend primarily to attend yesterday’s African Football League (AFL) final between Mamelodi Sundowns and Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca, but sauntered into FNB Stadium minutes before Orlando Pirates beat Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 in a DStv Premiership match on Saturday.

“It was an incredible, incredible experience for me, my first Soweto derby,” the Swiss-Italian, who has been Fifa president since 2016, said after the match.

“The two teams were fighting until the end. The fans were incredible. Orlando Pirates won but Kaizer Chiefs put up a great, great fight.”

Infantino entered the FNB Stadium presidential suite just before kickoff, and he and his entourage – which included famous retired referee Pierluigi Collina – were escorted to their seats by sports minister Zizi Kodwa. Caf president Patrice Motsepe also formed part of the entourage.

During halftime, they took a walkabout around the field, greeting fans. “The most emotional of it was that what was happening on the field went to the public. [There was] a full house. I had forgotten how emotional the crowd is, everyone was looking forward to this game around the city and it was a great atmosphere. It was emotional around the stadium... great passion,” he said of the more than 80,000 people who attended the match, which was decided by Evidence Makgopa’s solitary strike.

Infantino, whose entourage included security, was hassled for selfies by some inside the presidential suite as he departed Soccer City soon after the final whistle. Yesterday, he and Motsepe visited President Cyril Ramaphosa before heading to Loftus to watch the inaugural AFL final.


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