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JOY ANDSORROW; Mandela forced to miss dazzling World Cup party Mandela forced to miss dazzling World Cup party Mandela forced to miss dazzling World Cup party.

Byline: Keith McLeod

THE World Cup kicked off yesterday with a breathtaking party in football-crazy South Africa.

The big party was designed to be the perfect start for South Africans.

And it was fitting that their team should be the first to score in the 2010 competition. Midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala scored a spectacular goal in their 1-1 draw with Mexico.

But the colourful opening ceremony was marred by the death of Nelson Mandela's great-granddaughter.

The former president pulled out of the party in Johannesburg after 13-year-old Zenani died in a car crash on Thursday evening.

Mandela's absence did not stop the 1581 dancers and singers enthralling the crowd at the 85,000-capacity Soccer City stadium.

After an aerial display by the South African air force, drummers and dancers performed a Welcome To Africa song that included an introduction to the tournament's 10 venues.

Beetle The next sequence saw a gigantic dung beetle - which is revered in the country - show off its football skills before large pieces of cloth were used to show a map of the continent.

A massive calabash cooking pot, depicting the stadium design, represented another side of Africa and the colour and splendour drew even more roars from the crowd.

Musicians and artists from the other African finalist countries - Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria - also had their chance to perform in a joint sequence.

American R&B star R Kelly then sang the ceremony's showpiece song, Sign Of A Victory, with South Africa's Soweto Spiritual Singers.

The opening ceremony concluded with a display of flags from the 176 countries that failed to qualify, surrounding those that did.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Mexican president Felipe Calderon and US vice-president Joe Biden were all invited. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and president Jacob Zuma were also there.

Last night, the organisers of the ceremony were slammed after thousands of fans were caught up in gridlock trying to get to the stadium.

Cars were backed up for miles and many supporters abandoned their vehicles more than an hour away.

South Africans believe their team, known as Bafana Bafana, can lift the trophy. The side have never progressed beyond the group stage but they'll be cheered on by a nation gripped by football fever.

Many believe the vuvuzela, the plastic trumpets which make a noise like a herd of charging elephants, will be their secret weapon.

CAPTION(S):

OUT OF AFRICA: The opening party yesterday, including the dung beetle. Right, fans say thanks to Nelson Mandela yesterday, including the dung beetle. Right, FIRST GOAL: Siphiwe
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 12, 2010
Words:424
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