Dutch paint South Africa orange

Netherlands supporters have turned South Africa into a sea of orange during the World Cup. (AFP...

Netherlands supporters have turned South Africa into a sea of orange during the World Cup. (AFP PHOTO/Monirul Bhuiyan)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:05 PM ET

CAPE TOWN -- It is 6:45 a.m. on June 9 at the Amsterdam Airport and the QMI Agency's World Cup reporters are in bad need of a java fix.

Having just completed the first leg of our 22-hour odyssey from Toronto to South Africa, we are hunting for a coffee joint that might serve the perfect cup o' joe while we wait for our connection to Johannesburg.

Suddenly, it appears in front of our very eyes. In the form of a giant soccer ball. That's right. A giant soccer ball.

Inside the room-sized, hollowed-out orb is a bar with about 20 stools, most of them occupied. Cool place. One that is decorated with all kinds of orange soccer paraphernalia. The coffees are ordered.

"You want brandy with that?" the proprietor asks.

Is this guy serious? It seems kind of early. Obviously, not early enough for the fan decked out in an orange Dutch national team scarf who walks up minutes later and buys a bottle of champagne with four glasses.

"A pre-tournament toast," he says. "The Netherlands is going to win it all!"

An hour later, Mr. Bubbly is at our gate for the flight to South Africa. So, too, are several hundred other orange-clad Dutch supporters, hooting and hollering in anticipation of being on hand to back their team on it's potential march to the 2010 World Cup.

Almost a month later, they have not left this country. In fact, the Orange Nation is alive and well and in full colour here at South Africa 2010.

They may come from a relatively small country with a modest population of only about 16 million, but the Dutch have had a huge presence here, exhibiting their love for their national soccer side, the colour orange and their penchant for having a good time. Usually, all three of those passions take place at once.

On Friday, the Orange Nation descended on Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth by the thousands for the huge quarterfinal showdown with tournament favourite Brazil.

Usually when Kaka and Co. take to the pitch, the surrounding stands are dominated by yellow and green. Not this time. On this particular afternoon, there is almost as much orange as yellow in the seats. With all those bright jerseys being worn by the fans, you almost need sunglasses inside the venue. Just call the game the "Pastel Bowl."

Hours later, it is orange bedlam. The Dutch have upset mighty Brazil 2-1, earning them a spot in the semis against Uruguay on Tuesday at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town.

And if the Dutch players are in Cape Town, you can bet the Orange Nation will be here in full force too. Sure enough, the Dutch fans began trickling into this stunningly beautiful city Sunday, wearing their tangerine garb and huge smiles.

There is no doubt among members of The Orange Nation that their heroes will easily dispose of Uruguay and punch a ticket for the title game next Sunday at Soccer City, the first time, should it play out that way, that The Netherlands would appear in a World Cup final in 32 years.

Dutch supporters have been waiting for this. And, if it happens, if their beloved team could finally capture its first World Cup crown, they don't want to watch it on TV. No, they are going to be here to see it live.

Some actually made the 18,000-kilmetre drive just to be here. One report identified a particular convoy of about 20 orange buses, trucks and cars that completed the journey from Amsterdam.

For those who opted to fly, Dutch airlines even had to add extra flights to South Africa in order to accommodate the demand.

And pretty much all of them will be wearing orange, whether it be wigs, pants, shirts, jackets, boas, you name it. So why the orange when the official colours of The Netherlands flag are red white and blue?

The fashion statement has its roots in the country's history. Orange is the color of the Dutch royal family. It dates back to William of Orange, who organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule and helped them gain independence.

Centuries later, The Orange Nation has come to South Africa, a country their ancestors settled in the 17th century as a trading post en route to their sea travels to the far east.

They have flooded down here to see Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and their teammates hoist the World Cup for the first time in history.

And should that happen, expect them to paint this country orange!

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos