Mandela Day spectacle: Rugby and soccer fans gather in anticipation

"We are here to support both of our teams," Joe Mathebula, a supporter, said.

"I have been here since the early hours of this morning getting ready for a special day. The country needs to get behind these boys and there will be lots to shout about when the games start."

The day's events, in recognition of the former president's contribution to sport in South Africa, would comprise three major matches at the stadium.

First up would be a South African 'Legends' soccer team taking on an Italian 'Masters' outfit, followed by the Bafana Bafana international friendly game against Burkina Faso.

In an unprecedented initiative, the Springboks then host Argentina, in their 2013 Rugby Championship opener, at the same venue.

Traffic activity
Outside, scores of sports fans waited for the green light to be allowed inside the 90 000-seater stadium, which was being prepared for the first match.

Rugby supporters travelled to the venue hours before the kick-off for the Springbok clash, in an attempt to avoid mounting traffic activity.

"We will be supporting the Bafana today," Chris Steenekamp, wearing a Springbok jersey and hat, said.

"It's not everyday that you get two games for the price of one and I have never watched a live soccer match before. My children are very excited to be here. This is a first time for them at this big stadium."

Traffic congestion remained a problem, with some fans citing a lack of proper signage as a major delay.

"I was a bit disappointed to be honest," said one supporter who had travelled from Polokwane, Limpopo.

"I tried to find where I could park my car, but there were no signs to direct me. But I found a place eventually and I'm glad to be close to the stadium, away from the chaos at the parking place."

Inside the stadium, security and ground staff were the only people allowed in. They were adding the final touches to their preparations for the day's activities. – Sapa

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Sapa
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