South Africa gripped by World Cup fever
Almost two decades after South Africa was shunned by the international sporting community, the country on Friday embraced the world with a vivid, colourful opening ceremony and a memorable first match.
South African fans leaving Soccer City might have felt they should have beaten an impressive but wasteful Mexican side, but a 1-1 draw will give even more hope to a country that has been swept by optimism in recent days.
Fans leave Soccer City after South Africa's impressive World Cup start - photo: AP
Earlier, Danny Jordaan, head of the South African organising committee, described his happiness that an event so long denied Africa had become a reality.
And a couple of hours before the match started I watched as fans of all ages and backgrounds ran excitedly into the stadium clutching their tickets as if they were made of the gold once mined nearby. Their joy was a marvel to behold and after so many years of covering sport, an uplifting experience.
They had come here determined to prove the world they could throw a party to remember. All the worries about crime and security, tickets, transport and infrastructure melted away in the bright Johannesburg sunshine.
There were some empty seats - a fact that will anger so many South Africans who would have loved to have been inside Soccer City - and the traffic from downtown Johannesburg and Sandton was horrific.
But these were small points and only the most churlish of visitors would have allowed that to overshadow what was a triumphant day for South Africa and for football.
And so the scene is set for a memorable tournament. The warmth and jubilation of the fans, the impressive site of Soccer City and the ceaseless noise of the vuvuzelas have already made this very different to anything we have witnessed before.