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African party gets underway in Cape Town

Cape Town was well and truly struck by World Cup fever as the party spilled onto the streets and vuvuzelas were blown deep into the night after Friday's World Cup draw, despite a tricky draw for the hosts.

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After being grouped with Mexico, Uruguay and France, the most cynical South Africans may have resigned themselves to an early exit, but that did not seem to dampen the atmosphere at Cape Town's main party venue, the city's trendy Long Street. Local and foreign fans, many with flags of their favourite teams painted on their faces, thronged the bars and restaurants.

"South Africans are positive. We believe," said Vuyani Kwinana, who carried a large national flag. "Africa is going to conquer and take this World Cup. We will beat Mexico in the first match."

Fans, some of whom had been partying since early afternoon, sat exhausted along the pavements as the blare of vuvuzelas - plastic trumpets blown incessantly at South African matches - pierced the night air. A huge television screen was set up to show the draw to the excited crowds.

The ceremony ended the suspense over who the 32 qualifying teams would play and where and was watched on television by an estimated 250 million people in 200 countries.

"This is the first time I've been to South Africa and I'm finding it very cool," said Thomas Beltlwieser, a 31-year-old from Munich. "We are already having a great time and meeting people from around the world. The locals are friendly and we feel safe but we have to be safety conscious."

South Africa is one of the world's most dangerous places outside a war zone and the government has taken extraordinary measures to ensure visitors are safe during the draw and next year's month-long event starting on June 11.

"This draw and the World Cup means a lot for Africa, the world's poorest continent," said Zimbabwean artist Godfrey Dambuleni, who was holding his own World Cup trophy made of tin and held together with wire.


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