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Historic Spain victory caps euphoric African World Cup

By The Assam Tribune

JOHANNESBURG, July 12 (DPA): A historic first World Cup victory for Spain in Soccer City capped the first World Cup in Africa Sunday, with a brief appearance by Nelson Mandela sealing the end to an immensely successful tournament for the South African hosts.

The all-European final between Spain and the Netherlands was a bad-tempered affair, with the two sides ratcheting up 14 yellow cards, of which Dutch defender John Heitinga received two, earning him a sending off.

Spanish fans erupted in joy after striker Andres Iniesta scored the only goal of the game in extra time to write Spain's name in World Cup annals. The usually noisy army of Oranje supporters watched in stony silence and then loudly booed English referee Howard Webb as he collected his medal.

But the dour Dutch mood couldn't dispel the euphoria of nearly one billion Africans, who were puffed up with pride at the close of an immensely successful World Cup that has confounded Africa's critics.

"You'll never get another World Cup like this. I'm very proud to be South African," said Garrett Whyte, a 25-year-old student from Johannesburg, who attended the final.

"We have to thank South Africa for really transforming Africa, It's done all of Africa proud," said Samson Adamu, from Nigeria, who also attended the game.

"Now the know-how is there, who knows, maybe Nigeria could organize a World Cup in a few decades," he mused.

South Africa's farewell to a World Cup that has united the country across racial lines like never before was all the more emotional by the appearance at the closing ceremony of anti-apartheid icon Mandela.

The 89,000-capacity stadium erupted in cheers and vuvuzela blowing as the white-haired statesman was driven around the pitch with his wife Graca Machel in a golf cart.

Dressed in a black winter coat and wearing a black fur hat and black gloves, the 91-year-old former president smiled and waved, leaving some fans battling to choke back tears.

Mandela, the symbol of South African democracy, was key in landing the first World Cup in Africa but was forced to miss the opening ceremony on June 11 following the tragic death of his great grand-daughter in a car crash.

Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for resisting apartheid before becoming the country's first black president in 1994, was key to South Africa securing the World Cup.

The closing ceremony was also watched by South African President Jacob Zuma, Queen Sofia of Spain, Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and several African heads of state.

Dressed in a grass skirt and beaded halter top, Colombian popstar Shakira, who also also performed at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, headlined the event with her Cameroonian-inspired World Cup anthem Waka Waka.

Grammy winning a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo blessed the final with their song "Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain", a good omen in Africa.

As they sang, 13 make-believe elephants inhabited by people ambled across the pitch to drink at a video-projection of a watering hole. The ceremony also replayed key moments from the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

After the final whistle, FIFA president Joseph Blatter presented the World Cup trophy to Spanish captain Iker Casillas with Zuma and Soccer City was lit up with fireworks.

FIFA's boss was due to deliver his final assessment of the tournament on Monday but has also already declared his satisfaction.

Zuma has already praised South Africans as the real stars of the tournament.

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Historic Spain victory caps euphoric African World Cup

JOHANNESBURG, July 12 (DPA): A historic first World Cup victory for Spain in Soccer City capped the first World Cup in Africa Sunday, with a brief appearance by Nelson Mandela sealing the end to an immensely successful tournament for the South African hosts.

The all-European final between Spain and the Netherlands was a bad-tempered affair, with the two sides ratcheting up 14 yellow cards, of which Dutch defender John Heitinga received two, earning him a sending off.

Spanish fans erupted in joy after striker Andres Iniesta scored the only goal of the game in extra time to write Spain's name in World Cup annals. The usually noisy army of Oranje supporters watched in stony silence and then loudly booed English referee Howard Webb as he collected his medal.

But the dour Dutch mood couldn't dispel the euphoria of nearly one billion Africans, who were puffed up with pride at the close of an immensely successful World Cup that has confounded Africa's critics.

"You'll never get another World Cup like this. I'm very proud to be South African," said Garrett Whyte, a 25-year-old student from Johannesburg, who attended the final.

"We have to thank South Africa for really transforming Africa, It's done all of Africa proud," said Samson Adamu, from Nigeria, who also attended the game.

"Now the know-how is there, who knows, maybe Nigeria could organize a World Cup in a few decades," he mused.

South Africa's farewell to a World Cup that has united the country across racial lines like never before was all the more emotional by the appearance at the closing ceremony of anti-apartheid icon Mandela.

The 89,000-capacity stadium erupted in cheers and vuvuzela blowing as the white-haired statesman was driven around the pitch with his wife Graca Machel in a golf cart.

Dressed in a black winter coat and wearing a black fur hat and black gloves, the 91-year-old former president smiled and waved, leaving some fans battling to choke back tears.

Mandela, the symbol of South African democracy, was key in landing the first World Cup in Africa but was forced to miss the opening ceremony on June 11 following the tragic death of his great grand-daughter in a car crash.

Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for resisting apartheid before becoming the country's first black president in 1994, was key to South Africa securing the World Cup.

The closing ceremony was also watched by South African President Jacob Zuma, Queen Sofia of Spain, Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and several African heads of state.

Dressed in a grass skirt and beaded halter top, Colombian popstar Shakira, who also also performed at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, headlined the event with her Cameroonian-inspired World Cup anthem Waka Waka.

Grammy winning a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo blessed the final with their song "Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain", a good omen in Africa.

As they sang, 13 make-believe elephants inhabited by people ambled across the pitch to drink at a video-projection of a watering hole. The ceremony also replayed key moments from the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

After the final whistle, FIFA president Joseph Blatter presented the World Cup trophy to Spanish captain Iker Casillas with Zuma and Soccer City was lit up with fireworks.

FIFA's boss was due to deliver his final assessment of the tournament on Monday but has also already declared his satisfaction.

Zuma has already praised South Africans as the real stars of the tournament.