In the Fall, I (along with two other New School students Rob Navarro and Owen Dodd) created a blog Global Soccer, Global NYC, to document watching world football in bars and restaurants all over New York City. We plan to do some of that with Afcon 2013. The tournament’s opening match kicked off on Saturday between tournament hosts South Africa and Cup debutants Cape Verde in a partly empty Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg and resulted in a largely uninspired and forgettable 0-0 draw. Meanwhile in Fort Greene, where Madiba, New York City’s most popular South African restaurant is located, we were sadly the only two fans present with hopes of watching the match early Saturday morning.
The outing also suffered from technical difficulties from the get go. After giving us assurances over the phone that the game would be shown, when we arrived NBA highlights were on a small television screen and a waitress claimed to not be aware of any South African soccer being played. Following a bit of back and forth with the friendly staff, they said they would try to get an internet stream of the action up on a projector screen that was pulled down over a wall of various South African imported groceries.
Despite the sustained, yet-not-particularly-troubled, efforts of two waitresses, a manager, and a cook, the audio/video issues ultimately rendered viewing the game on the projector moot. We accepted projector defeat and were then handed a laptop with an unfortunate glare problem and a slow internet connection to catch the last twenty minutes of the first half as we finished our tasty egg and boerewors sausage breakfasts.
On the pitch, South Africa looked flat throughout the game and was unable to keep possession in front of the omnipresent vuvuzela drone of the home fans. Bafana Bafana’s attempt to win their first Africa Cup of Nations match since 2004 was also visibly affected by the “retirement” of their best player, Steven Pienaar, “at home in Liverpool.”
Cape Verde, on the other hand, looked energetic, skilful, and dangerous down the flanks despite only having a population of 500,000 people to draw their national side from. They even posses a diminutive striker named Platini who showed flashes of self-assured brilliance.
After having enough with the ongoing technical difficulties and lack of South African fans at Madiba, we ended up relocating to the private residence of a local South African to catch most of the second half in a livelier environment. We are confident, however, that watching Afcon in New York City alongside interested fans will get more dynamic as the tournament goes on and we explore different neighborhoods around the city.