Around 8,000 Chileanshave traveled to South Africa to accompany the national team on its eighth participation in a football world cup. The fact is that, after 12 years of absence from the top competition in world football, the passion aroused by the team led by Marcelo Bielsa is indisputable, which is also ratified by the excellent results that led Chile to become the second-best team in the Conmebol qualifying round, behind only the all-powerful Brazil.
The atmosphere that has welcomed the South American team’s fans in South Africa has been the best: the football World Cup is a party and this special atmosphere has received a special and essential contribution from the happy and welcoming South Africans, who have forged a special relationship with the Chilean fans and team.
They showed this at the game in which Chile defeated New Zealand by 2-0, the final preparatory match before “La Roja’s” (The Reds) debut, planned for 16 June against Honduras, in Nelspruit.
With Chilean flags and caps, in addition to their vuvuzelas, trumpets that imitate the sounds of bees, the lively South Africans who arrived at the Knaymanazane Stadium joined in the Chilean fans and tirelessly supported them, celebrating the goals scored by Gonzalo Fierro and Esteban Paredes as if they were their own.
But there was more. Without doubt the peopple who attracted the most attention were a group of semi-nude South African fans, who sat themselves down in the bleachers alongside men in tribal dress to support the national team and even learned chants like the traditional C-H-I! that characterizes Chilean fans, and “Chupete,” in allusion to the South American team’s top goal scorer, all with the collaboration of the fans of La Roja, who led the improvised and unique group of supporters with similar enthusiasm.
A groupof around 50 Germans was not long in joining the scene, dedicating songs to Arturo Vidal, a player for the European country’s team Bayer Leverkusen.
Thus, Chile is expected to practically play with home field advantage in its debut, accompanied by the loyal “Red Tide,” which has now included South African fans and followers.