An enormous 466 contestants descended on the Cresta shopping centre, Johannesburg this past Saturday to compete in the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC) 2010 local qualifier.

As early as 9am, players had begun grinding through continuous elimination matches, until around 5pm, when the final seven had emerged. Amongst them was newcomer Naeem Williams who produced some great upsets in the tournament by eliminating both 2008 FIWC local qualifier Bjorn Diedricks and 2009 FIWC local qualifier Gordon Butler in late round matchups. Unfortunately Williams’ reign was cut short in a 4-2 defeat by semi-finalist Andries Makgato.

To make an even final 8, the Saudi-Arabian FIWC feeder event winner, Rakan Al-Haqbani flew in from Dubai to attend the event but suffered a 5–3 loss at the hands of Collen Ndlovu in the quarterfinals.

Overview of tournament

The first spot in the finals was awarded to Abubaker Ebrahim’s French team after a secure 4-2 win over Ian Pillay’s Spain. Ndlovu’s English squad then capitalised on Chelsea’s goal-keeping errors for a 4-1 victory over Makgato and confirmed an Ebrahim/Ndlovu final.

The final matchup of the day commenced with both players donning Bafana Bafana jerseys and Ndlovu issuing some light hearted smack talk to his seasoned FIWC’08 grand finalist opponent. Ebrahim didn’t seem too bothered though as he rocked the post with France’s Thierry Henry in the early seconds of the game. France continued to pour pressure on Ndlovu’s frantic English defence, only stopping for the whistle to signal the end of a goalless first half.

Without a moment’s pause, the second half kicked off and the silence of the crowd was shattered by Ndlovu’s first early goal. Ebrahim retaliated by catching the keeper off his line with a well-placed chip. Before the crowd had time to digest the 1-1 score line, Ndlovu and Ebrahim had pushed it to 2-2. In the dying seconds of the second half Steven Gerrard’s boot delivered the deciding goal, cementing Collen Ndlovu, the 18 year old youngster form Bedfordview, Johannesburg as our FIWC 2010 local qualifier.

When asked why he entered the tournament, Ndlovu simply replied “I live for football.” A statement fully supported by the fact that he claimed to have practised between “5 to 6 hours a day” at FIFA 10 before entering the competition.

Our proud winner

Our proud winner

Ebrahim landed himself a brand new PSP and R3000 worth of games for his second place efforts. As overall winner of the tournament, Ndlovu received a new PS3 slim, R3000 worth of ps3 games and will be flown over to Barcelona, Spain, to participate in the global FIFA Interactive World Championship on the 1st of May. The grand prize of the Championship include 20 000 Euros and the title of FIWC world champion.

If all the nail-biting action wasn’t quite enough for you, DJ switch along with the gravity defying football freestylers and break-dancers were on hand to keep you entertained. Other highlights included visits from members of local rock band The Parlotones, Comedian Trevor Noah and Revin John from 94.7 Highveld Stereo.

This year’s event concluded as the most thrilling and well-attended local FIWC qualifier to date. All that’s left to do now is wish Collen Ndlovu the best of luck when he represents South Africa in the FIFA Interactive World Championship.

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