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One fan to rule them

When asked how he felt after being dethroned as the number one Kaizer Chiefs supporter by Machaka Masilo, Freddy “Saddam” Maake quipped to Kick-Off: “I don’t want to be another Mugabe. I must give others a chance.”

The colourful Amakhosi supporter had been demoted from leading the cheerleading ahead of last year’s Vodacom Challenge for allegedly speaking to the media without his club’s permission.

Be that as it may, when a roll-call of the leading football supporters in South Africa is taken, Orlando Pirates’ duo of Mzion Mofokeng and Dejan Miladinovic, Saddam Maake and Machaka Masilo of Kaizer Chiefs, Ajax Cape Town and Bafana Bafana’s self-proclaimed number one female supporter Gladys Gailey, as well as the unmistakable face of Bloemfontein Celtics’ Botha Msila, would be at the top.

They have left lasting impressions on television screens with their colourful gear and sometimes near-silly antics — eating bread to indicate the opposition is their “daily bread”, opening the Bible in search of divine intervention, blowing the vuvuzela, and in the case of Celtic’s Msila, wearing a shower cap.

SA’s number 1 soccer fan

Thulani Ngcobo has been voted SA’s Number One Soccer Fan. As the winner of MTN’s Last Fan Standing competition, he will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most matches watched in one World Cup.

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In return, some of these fans have been rewarded with season tickets to watch all their club’s matches. With travel and accommodation costs thrown in, it explains the great lengths some fans go to gain recognition from their clubs.

Top fan?
The question that comes to mind given the many claimants to the strange throne of South Africa’s number one football supporter, is: Who is the top fan in the country?

MTN decided to unravel the mystery once and for all by running a competition to test supporters’ soccer knowledge.

The prize for the winner was a crack at the world record for watching the most matches in a Soccer World Cup finals tournament and having their name included in the Guinness World Records.

The company undertook to pay the travel, accommodation and ticket costs for 38 matches, which would eclipse the record of 20 matches.

Little-known Thulani Ngcobo (29) scooped the lucrative prize ahead of the more established names.

But does this actually mean he is the number-one supporter in the country?

Saddam thinks differently.

“We are very happy for him, and Kaizer Chiefs supporters plan to throw a big party for him. But this was just a competition. I was recognised as the top supporter in 1997 and travelled with Bafana Bafana to their inaugural World Cup appearance in France the next year. I was also paraded on big screens as the best supporter at the final of the Confederations Cup last year.

“People like me and Mzion have been football slaves for many years, dating back to the liberation struggle,” said the 53-year-old.

While he acknowledged that Ngcobo had won the competition fair and square, he could not resist adding that choosing the number one fan was subjective.

“There are people who do more for their clubs than us because they pay to go to watch matches — week-in, week-out, from their pockets,” he said.

Family first
The outspoken vuvuzela-blowing supporter of Kaizer Chiefs said he did not even enter the competition. “There is only one winner and I want to go with my family so that they can experience the magic of the World Cup. I want my kids to be part of history”.

Ngcobo was equally diplomatic about his coup. “I won a very tough competition but I cannot claim to be the number one football fan in the country. I don’t know what it takes to be considered as such.”

The Pretoria-based fan is only looking forward to breaking the world record of 20 games in a single Soccer World Cup tournament. “I am 100% confident of surpassing this record because I sometimes watch even four games in a week.

Ngcobo said other football fans can follow his progress on his website, set to be launched before the tournament kicks-off on June 11.

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