via World Cup fever grips Zim | The Zimbabwean.15 June 2014
That is the story as the streets of Zimbabwe become a sea of assorted colours, as soccer lovers shelve replica jerseys of their favourite clubs to put on those of the national teams they are banking on to win the World Cup.
Even the bar attendants and catering staff in most clubs have benefitted heavily from the World Cup, as sports club owners have purchased replica jerseys for their workers – not one or two, but many, as they brace for the one-month football festival. “They need to change on a daily basis and we have the whole month for which the World Cup will be the main topic,” said Albert Mavhura of Wheel and Ease Bar in Warren Park, also known as Whezhaz.
Even sports shop owners admit that business has been brisk, with customers coming in search of replica jerseys. “The demand has been too much,” said Ireen Nyemba of Betta Ball Sports. “Brazil has been the highest in demand. I am not sure whether it is because they are hosting or because fans like their play.”
The same fever was last seen four years ago, when South Africa 2010 culminated in Spain beating the Netherlands 2-1, after all the African teams had been eliminated – with the best being Ghana’s heart-breaking penalty shootout loss to Uruguay in the quarter finals.
Most people fancy hosts Brazil to lift the world’s most revered football trophy and that is not surprising. The A Seleção are a top football nation and have gone into every World Cup as favourites. They are also record winners of the tournament, with five triumphs overall. They bombed out in the quarters four years ago, but have the advantage of playing at home this time.
“There is no doubt, Brazil will take it. Not only because they are playing at home, but also because of the quality of their players. They are way above all the other countries,” said Flame Lilly coach, Nesbert Saruchera.
There were some who believed Spain would retain the title, while others were banking on Germany or Argentina. “This is the time for Lionel Messi to prove that he is the best player in the world and I am sure he is going to do just that,” said former Dynamos defender Henry Chari.
Although fans wanted to be patriotic in terms of the chances of the five African teams, they were in agreement that the best the continent could do was get a quarter-final place, with most of them tipping continental champions Nigeria to go that far.
This is just a guessing game, but on July 12 the real World Cup winner will be known. In the meantime, let the games begin.