Traveler intern Daniel Bortz surveys South Africa’s prospects of making it to the next round of the World Cup.
After France‘s volatile coach Raymond Domenech expelled star player Nicolas Anelka and attacked his squad’s “imbecility” and the team refused to practice, the country approaches today’s matchup against South Africa on shaky ground. Unfortunately for the host nation’s team, odds are slim for advancing to the knockout round. South Africa needs not only a big-time victory against France — which may come with a forfeit from the disheartened team — but also an unlikely loss from Mexico or Uruguay to have a chance at qualifying.
With both teams’ fates hanging in the balance, today’s match between France and South Africa pits wine and cheese against beer and plantain crisps, blue versus yellow, and big-league talent opposite team unity.
Cultural Icons: Napoleon vs. Nelson Mandela
OK, maybe a matchup between these two figures isn’t fair. After all, Mandela had close to a good foot in height over the French political leader. But then again, Bonaparte’s a symbol for military genius. Mandela did play a pivotal role in combating apartheid, instituted in South Africa in 1948. Still, Mandela lacks Bonaparte’s psychological complex.
War of the Wars
From the Anglo-Zulu War between the British and the Zulu empire to the Second Boer War and apartheid, South Africa has a bloodied history. But France also has had its share of conflict, including slaughter and infighting between French citizens during the 16th century Wars of Religion and the radical French Revolution. Neither country wins this round; periods of turmoil and unrest don’t equate to soccer dominance.
When Cultural Institutions Collide
The Eiffel Tower or Cape Town‘s Castle of Good Hope, South Africa’s oldest surviving building? We’ll give this one to the brainchild of Parisian engineer Gustave Eiffel.
The Human Rights Country, a nickname donned for the French revolution, against the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa’s title for possessing one of the richest hominid fossil sites in the world. Tough call, but we’ll have to go with old bones that possess secrets of our species
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history, some dating 3.5 million years old.
Loud blasts from vuvuzuelas overpower French cheer from the stands. That settles it.
South Africa triumphs — we can hear the blare of the Chinese-manufactured horns from here.