With the World Cup weeks away, we’re going to highlight some of the teams, their countries, and of course, the things our teen travelers do when we visit.
First up, Group A.
The host country’s team automatically gets a place in the World Cup which is great news for South Africa (although they would argue that they would have likely earned their way into the finals). South Africa was banned from international competition for almost 30 years due to segregation. When Apartheid began to crumble in 1992, they were allowed to participate again. Bafana Bafana, as they are nicknamed, showed in last summer’s Confederations Cup that they have a lot of skill and athleticism. They competed well against some of the most talented teams in the world including Spain and the Brazil.
At the World Cup, they have been drawn in with a very tough group, perennial soccer powerhouses France and Mexico and former World Cup champions Uruguay.
With talent that mostly plays in the South African league, it’s going to be a struggle to win; however, we will be pulling for them as we hope to share in the victory celebration when we arrive in this country two days after they (or someone else!) lifts the trophy.
360° Student Travel visits South Africa on our 25 Day Community Service Africa Program. On that particular program, we volunteer with a local community in Acorhoek and work with children at the Sihlekisi Elementary School, about 50 miles from the town of Nelspruit, host to 4 World Cup games this summer at the Mbombela Stadium.
France – Les Bleus
Winners of the World Cup in 1998 on their home soil, France gained entry to the tournament in a massive controversy. They advanced by beating Ireland with a goal that was clearly handball. Though everyone in the world saw the infraction, the referee (the only opinion that truly mattered) did not, and no foul was called thus the goal was allowed.
Despite France limping into the final they are not to be underestimated. With wingers like Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery and Chelsea’s Florent Malouda and strikers Thierry Henry and Nicholas Anelka, the French truly are a goal scoring threat. Oh, and did we mention they have some of the fastest defenders in the world? Their left backs, both of whom play in England with Manchester United and Arsenal, are the two best in the world because they are uncatchable. They may have snuck into the World Cup but they are a force to be reckoned with.
France is one of our most visited countries in Europe. You can travel there with Westcoast Connection / 360° Student Travel on our European Discovery Teen Tour, European Escape Teen Tour, European Escapade Teen Tour, European Experience Teen Tour, Backpack France and Switzerland, Backpack Europe or French Excursion programs.
Another update tomorrow!
The Westcoast Blogger