As the Proteas prepare to leave for the cricket World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, South Africans showed up in their numbers at Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, to send them off in style. Fans gathered at the piazza and cheered on as the team, captained by AB De Villiers, took to the stage. PONTSHO PILANE asked cricket fans what they would like to say to the boys and what they think about the Proteasâ€™ chances of winning the World Cup.
Zodwa Mthembu, 24, unemployed, Tembisa
I have all the hope in our boys and I donâ€™t see anything holding them back from bringing the trophy home. The team has been exceptional over the past few months and I trust them to deliver at the World Cup. The team is made up of some of the worldâ€™s best bowlers and batsmen â€“ how could we lose?
Maropeng, 24, unemployed, Tembisa
I am here to send off the Proteas in style and to see them for myself. I havenâ€™t always been a cricket fan, but the winning streak that we have been on has made me one. I love Hamish Amla, he is the best batsman we have and I can see him breaking records at the World Cup. All I want to say is that I am proud of them already and I expect them to show the other teams flames.
Raeesa Hansrod, 25, volunteer, Killarney
The Proteas are definitely bringing the cup home â€“ I know it! If they play as well as they have in the past few games, then we are good to go! I just want them to go out there and make me and the rest of South Africa proud. I believe they have whatever it takes to see it through to the end. A whole nation is backing you up Proteas, donâ€™t let us down!
AndrÃ© Nel, 30-something, marketing manager, Randburg
I am all the way behind the Proteas throughout the World Cup! I am excited about their outcome and I think they will do well. As a Lions fan, my favourites are De Kock and Pangisa – they are quality players and will be an asset to the team. I want the Proteas to know that they are good to go! I wish the Proteas all the best and I see nothing but smiles on our faces when they return.
Michael Moloantoa, 27, brass band leader, Orange Grove
We completely trust the Proteas. They have proven themselves time and time again. We have supported them throughout their World Cup preparations against the West Indies, and I think they are ready. With AB De Villiers leading us, a victory cannot be too far off. I cannot wait to welcome them back at OR Tambo and play all their favourite jams. The Proteas have united South Africa, and even if we donâ€™t win the World Cup, we have won something!
– Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity.
– Featured image: By Theresa Mallinson. All other images: By Pontsho Pilane.