Cape Town, May 30(ANI): South African midfielder Steven Pienaar believes that the host country will invoke 'the spirit of Mandela' to create a World Cup as momentous as their heroic rugby union triumph of the 1990s.
"The whole country will come together. There is still a lot of racial tension, but sport builds the spirit and unites the people," News of The World quoted Pienaar, as saying.
"I was at school at the time of the Rugby World Cup. We were packed into tents watching the game. There were a lot of white Afrikaners in my school, but we were allowed to watch the games together for the first time. It was difficult for the Afrikaners to cheer a black guy in public at that time."
"I hope the football will have the same effect. The difference for us is not so many expect the football team to do so well, but maybe the Mandela touch will bring us luck," he added.
Pienaar further said that the tournament would be like "a big festival" for all the South Africans.
"The people in South Africa are going wild because we've been waiting so long for the tournament and now it's getting so close," Pienaar said.
"If we go past the first stage, we'll have achieved our goal. After that, anything can happen in the pressure of a knockout game, especially with our supporters behind us. We can surprise people," he added. (ANI)