Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Bryan Robson, the first Englishman to hear the din, confesses: The Vuvuzela could win the World Cup for South Africa!

Bryan Robson became the first Eanglishman to face the dreaded Vuvuzela in Nelspruit on Sunday and believes it may be a real problem for the other 31 nations at next month’s World Cup.

The former England skipper, now manager of Thailand, saw his side crushed 4-0 by South Africa in a pre-World Cup friendly dominated by the continual blast of the plastic football bugle, based on a traditional African antelope horn.

When the Vuvuzela drowned out commentary during last year’s Confederations Cup in South Africa, there were calls for a blanket ban but FIFA took no action. Local fans are addicted to the instrument, and an orchestra of tuneless Vuvuzelas has been set up in Cape Town by a distinguished music professor.

“The other coaches are definitely going to have to inform their players beforehand that they will have to communicate effectively with each other on the field," Robson said of the erm...unique atmosphere.

"It's very difficult to get any message to the players from the bench - coaches are going to have to make that known to their players," said Robson.

The Vuvuzela debate will continue right through to the final.

"If the atmosphere is like that in the World Cup, it will raise the level of the players a little bit. If the supporters are behind them like that, it will be a big boost,” Robson added.

South Africa can be pleased with their latest World Cup warm-up, watched by a capacity 42,000 crowd at the Mbombela Stadium, which has concrete pylons shaped like giraffe's legs. At 90th, they are the lowest ranked hosts in World Cup history and there are fears they could be the first host nation not to qualify for the knock-out phase. They share Group A with Mexico and former winners Uruguay and France.

Thailand are listed at a lowly 105th in the latest FIFA rankings, but Bafana Bafana (The Boys, The Boys) triumphed without their three high profile stars. West Ham striker Benni McCarthy was left on the bench by Brazilian boss Carlos Parreira Alberto, who says he lacks fitness. Aaron Mokoena, who did a fair job at centre-back for Portsmouth in the FA Cup final defeat against Chelsea on Saturday, and Everton’s player of the year Steven Pienaar have yet to join up with the squad.

Parreira is preparing to lead a record fifth side in Africa’s first World Cup.

“I don’t care about the quality of the opponents, this was a big improvement. Results build confidence, the players looked more comfortable on the ball. We still need more penetration, but I feel it is coming,” said Parreira.

South Africa have friendlies against Bulgaria, Colombia and Group E qualifiers Denmark before they open their Group A campaign against Mexico with the big kick-off at Soccer City on June 11.

“We now have stronger opponents coming and they will give us a more physical challenge. We are in the final build-up phase but this is a good start,” said Parreira, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1994.

South Africans, generally downbeat about their prospects, are beginning to change their view.

If 30,000 Vuvuzelas can make such a racket in Nelspruit, what will 90,000 be able to do at Soccer City? They could be a huge advantage. It could make a difference," Robson pointed out.

This journalist has attended three local games in South Africa in the past fortnight and come away with ears ringing as the din of the Vuvuzelas which range from four feet to three inches in length fills the stadium.

I've put together these videos:

The world’s smallest Vuvuzela: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLY7VWg1YhI

How to play the Vuvuzela (badly): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDYPwYGlnmw

South Africa’s secret weapon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0i2w0QPVTBE

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