From The Stands: Argentina Vs. Mexico

Mexico

hide captionA Mexico supporter at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg after his team's loss to Argentina: 3-1 Argentina moves on to play Germany, Mexico goes home.

Matt Dunham/AP

We arrived in Johannesburg by packed train from the center of Joburg. In South Africa, the traffic has extended for hours on the roads, so during the World Cup, the most efficient way to get around has been by rail.

The train ride was part of the overall experience as it was crammed and people were fired up for the game — chanting, taking pictures, meeting strangers.

We were there to watch Argentina take on Mexico at Soccer City — the tournament's main venue.  It was a far different feel walking up to this stadium as opposed to a smaller regional one like Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

Soccer City was breathtaking — absolutely huge but somehow elegant and lit up at night. It is special site.

All around us people were cavorting of course, flags were waving, guys in sombreros and fake 'staches, an England fan with sad clown face paint, and supporters wearing jerseys of all different teams.

Although I expected some degree of conflict between fans before this tournament, I haven't sensed any aggression.  I sported Argentina's colors but I always felt comfortable. The whole atmosphere felt like a great party.

The South Africans who we attended the game with were thrilled at the site, as well, even though they had attended games there already.

One of them said part of his happiness was to see our group of American faces light up.  As with any large international event, there's a tremendous amount of local pride and also relief at the success of the tournament.

At the same time, where we boarded the train to Soccer City in central Joburg, you're also reminded of what dangerous parts of the city look and feel like. I think people know it's not perfect but the event represents a milestone in the country's progress.

When we were in Nelspruit, my friend's father who has lived here his entire life said he has only been proud of being South African twice in his life: when Mandela was freed and when he saw his first World Cup 2010 match.

"When I saw that, I thought maybe we just might be able to make it work," he said.

Takuro Noguchi
Takuro Noguchi

Taku Noguchi used to play soccer competitively and has always been passionate about sports, This is his first World Cup. You might have heard his sister,Yuki on the NPR airwaves. Taku will be sending us "soccer postcards" throughout his time in South Africa.



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