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Mabbsy in SA

Our legendary former skipper and World Cup ambassador gives us his views from South Africa...

Gary Mabbutt is delighted to see an African flag still flying in Africa's first World Cup.

Our legendary former skipper is in South Africa for the duration of the tournament in his role as ambassador - a role he started all the way back in 2002.

Gary has travelled up and down the country over the last three weeks and having recovered from England's disappointing exit, the former England international told us that South Africa is getting behind Ghana's challenge as the quarter-finals approach.

"In South Africa the fans first supported Bafana Bafana, natutrally, but they went out and then a lot of them looked towards England, because they watch every Premier League game here and every person will support United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham or Chelsea," said Gary, capped 16 times by England.

"They were all disappointed to see England go out as well, so now you see a lot of Ghana flags around.

"The whole continent has come together. This is a World Cup for Africa - Africa is the theatre, South Africa is the stage - and the fact Ghana have got through to the last eight is great for the competition. The African flag is still flying."

Looking forward to the quarter-finals, Gary described some of the ties as ‘mini-finals' within the tournament.

"England against Germany was a huge, huge game, so was Spain against Portugal," he said. "Spain look good but every team has tough games coming up.

"Germany now have to play Argentina, who have been very impressive so far in the tournament. I've enjoyed Maradona's antics on the touchlines and on the pitch, Lionel Messi has pulled the strings and if he performs, his team has a good chance of progressing.

"I was impressed by Germany against England but when they were beaten by Serbia, I thought it might be a bridge too far for their youngsters in this tournament. But the likes of Muller and Ozil have stepped up to the mark.

"We can talk about the goal that was disallowed but the fact is that England were outplayed and we didn't deserve to go through."

As for his continued impressions of the tournament from South Africa, Gary added: "I've been travelling around the country throughout the tournament and it really has been a carnival of football.

"In the stadiums, fans are side by side, quite often South Africans supporting one team next to fans of the other team and the atmosphere has been magnificent. Overall, what South Africa has delivered so far, if anything, has exceeded expectations."


Friday - Holland v Brazil (3pm), Uruguay v Ghana (7.30pm)

Saturday - Argentina v Germany (3pm), Paraguay v Spain (7.30pm)