We are the world: Meet our global panel of UK fans

In the weeks ahead, supporters of every team in the tournament will comment in our sports section. Here are their own stories...
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The Independent Online

South Africa

Anthony Marques, 30, a restaurant manager in Penrith, originally from Pietermaritzburg.

Originally I came here to see friends, but I got myself a decent job and began to settle. There are five people from my home town here too, which makes it easier, and British people have been very welcoming. I think we will do OK. I will be cheering the Springboks from my restaurant, where we have a big screen set up.

Ivory Coast

Jean Claude Koutou, a personal adviser originally from Bongouanou.

I came to England in 1992. It is an excellent place: I have never experienced any negativity towards me as an immigrant. The only problems seem to be when people take advantage of the welfare state. I will be watching the matches at home with my friends. If we can beat Brazil, we can win the Cup.


Yuri Goncalves, 33, a bar manager in London, originally from Lisbon.

I came to England to study in 1995 and found it incredible. It has a wonderful mentality; very open and accepting. Every day you meet different people and are introduced to new ideas. I'll watch the games at Café Kick – many different nationalities go there to watch sports and there's always a superb atmosphere.


Noe Lucatero, 28, a waiter at a restaurant in London, originally from Puerto Vallarta.

I came to the UK in 2002 and have since settled in London because it is such a vibrant, cosmopolitan city. I love this country – the only thing I am not keen on is the weather.

People play down Mexico's chances but we did well in the last few World Cups and this is the best Mexican side ever.


Armand Tchangoum, 39, a freelance caterer in London, originally from Bandrefam.

I came over in 1993 to study management. There is a better quality of life in Britain compared to back home. One thing I don't like is the weather, it's a lot warmer in Cameroon. I'll be watching the games at the Maestro Bar and Restaurant in Deptford, where they show them all – Cameroonians welcome!

New Zealand

Lee Green, 39, a truck driver based in Coventry, originally from Whangarei.

It's going to be really happening over here during the World Cup. I've always found the UK very friendly, at least to the Antipodeans and migrants from the Commonwealth countries.

I'll probably be watching the games at home. I might go to the pub, but I struggle to hear the commentary there.


Santiago Baraibar, 36, tax adviser in London, originally from Montevideo.

I arrived here in 2007. My two children were born here. The Brits have really welcomed me and my family and the country has all the infrastructure we need to live and work. I think Uruguay will go through to the last 16, but then we'll probably have to play Argentina and it will be tough to beat them.


Yuko Yasui, 33, an art student in London, originally from Nagoya.

I moved here to improve my English and study art. We cook Japanese food here, as well as eating out in restaurants, but it's often expensive and doesn't taste as nice. I am looking forward to the World Cup and will watch the games with my boyfriend, either at home or near Trafalgar Square.


Leo Duranti, 29, footwear importer in London, originally from Sao Paulo.

I have been here for six years. I first came for university, but later came back. My whole family is involved in shoes and I felt there was a gap in the market here. For the first game, we'll be having a barbecue with some friends, plenty of caipirinhas and plenty of goals – we're playing North Korea.


Katarina Kovacova, 32, a recruitment adviser in Slough, originally from Bratislava.

Before I came to the UK I had certain preconceptions, but they were wrong – people were surprisingly friendly and tolerant. At work my nationality doesn't matter, as long as you can do your job. I think we should aim for the semi-finals and be optimistic, but it's great we're even at the World Cup.


Jose Rolon, 39, treasury manager in Surrey, originally from Asuncion.

I came to the UK when I was transferred. People make a lot of the bad transport over here but it is amazing compared with back home. I plan to watch the games at home because I get tense and anxious. My parents are sending over some T-shirts for my children, but our eldest supports Chelsea and England!


Vicky Alberto, 31, mental health nurse in London, originally from Buenos Aires.

I moved to London in 2008 and love living here. At first I was surprised at how accepting people were – it's completely different to home, where people are not very welcoming of immigrants. I'll be watching the matches at a pub in Clerkenwell. Lots of people from different nationalities will be there, so the atmosphere should be great.


Natasha Panic, 42, originally from Belgrade, owns a pub in London.

The UK has a very relaxed style of life. Everybody I meet at the pub is friendly – we are going to watch the football there, serving Serbian brandy and food. We're also showing the England games, of course. Nemanja Vidic is my favourite player, he takes care of business on the pitch and then off it he keeps his private life private.


Paulina Serrano, 31, a chef at a restaurant in London, originally from Santiago.

I came here for love! My boyfriend at the time decided to come to England so I followed him. He's now my husband so it was the right decision. He's from India and we met when we were both working on a cruise liner.

Although I miss not having my family around me and I don't like the weather here, I like the fact that there are lots of places to visit. And when the sun is out, the city parks are really nice. I used to live in Winchester, which was really pretty and beautiful – but too quiet for me really.

I hardly have any British friends as London is made up of immigrants – wherever you go there are foreigners. I only really have one truly British friend.

I have never had any trouble from the people here – they leave you to do your own thing and in general it's a fun city. The only time I try to avoid people in Britain is when they've had too much alcohol, which seems to happen quite often.

I'll either be watching the matches with a group of my Chilean friends in a pub or at home, as I've got a small baby I need to look after.

My favourite player is David Suazo. I think we have a good chance to do well as the team is used to playing together. I think we could reach the quarter-finals and I hope we meet Argentina there as it'd be brilliant to beat them.


Mario Ndede, 20, a student in London. Parents emigrated to the UK from Ghana.

I was born in London but lived in Ghana until I was four. My parents are both Ghanaian but came over here for the career opportunities. Going back to Ghana helps me appreciate life here a lot more and the things we take for granted – life in England is very easy really. My favourite player is Michael Essien – his injury is a massive blow.


Peter Jensen, 41, a fashion designer in London, originally from Logstor.

I love it here in England – I love the TV, I've been recently watching Red Riding on DVD which I missed when it was on. I have always found the UK friendly and with very good manners. It's a bit different back home: in Denmark there is no word for please. I'm probably not going to watch the games, but I know plenty of people who will be.


Pank Overbeek, 27, manager of a Dutch bar in London, originally from Alphen aan den Rijn.

I've been in the UK for three years and have married an English girl. We're patriotic, any excuse for a party! I'll be watching it here in the bar. We're showing it on five screens with tickets to get in. I'll be working, but I'll have fun. Hopefully we can get through the group stage, but I doubt we can get past the quarter-finals.


Sala Maariche, 45, an IT engineer in London, originally from Mansoura.

I came to the UK 23 years ago to study, and it became my home. One of the best things is the freedom – you can say what you want about anything, even if it's bad. I will probably watch the games with my friends over coffee. We tried to organise a big screen outside but you need permission because of the noise.


Donald Maynard, 47, US embassy worker in London, originally from Virginia.

I came to the UK a year ago because of my job. I love London, it's a fabulous, cosmopolitan city. Everyone I've met, especially people in my neighbourhood, has been very welcoming. I'm watching England at home with 15 friends. For the rest of the games we might go out somewhere.


Tine Mur, 31, head of information at the Slovenian embassy, originally from Ajdovscina.

I came to the UK five years ago to study, then I got a job here. The UK is a very diverse place, especially London, which seems to represent the spirit of the world. I'm going to watch the games in a pub called the Colonies, the Slovenian hub for the World Cup – we're trying to get Slovenian beer over as well.

North Korea

Lee Jong-Sung, 52, a self-employed engineer in London, originally from Pyongyang.

I came over to the UK in the early 1980s to seek a better life. It's very hard in North Korea to make a living, we have no food and there's a lot of starvation. Life here is very good, we have a lot of freedom here compared to how it was.

I love watching football. You can't see matches from the UK or other places in North Korea because of the censorship, so I enjoy being able to see them here.

I have nothing bad to say about living in the UK. It's great being here and people are quite friendly, but I find attitudes to migrants more hostile these days.

I go to the pub to watch matches with my friends, and I'm looking forward to the match with Brazil on Tuesday. I think we will draw 1-1. It's very hard to find other North Koreans – not that I've been looking – so I mainly watch with my mates and family.

My favourite player is the captain, Hong Yong-jo, who is a great all-rounder. Jong Tae-se, our striker, has promised to score in every game but I think that's unrealistic – he will score in two of the games, maybe against Ivory Coast and Brazil.


Rene Zimmermann, 30, IT consultant in Teddington, originally from Jena.

I have been in the UK for four years, but before that I studied in Leicester. I like the people, the football and the pub culture! I'm also a season-ticket holder at Fulham. For the World Cup, I'm happy Ballack is injured. He's cocky, and he plays for Chelsea. His injury will give other players a chance to step up.


Marie-Virginie Dispot, 29, an accountant in London, originally from Paris.

I came to London six months ago for work and it has been a big adjustment, but I'm starting to feel at home. People in the capital seem used to being around foreigners. I hope we go as far as possible, they could win it. It was a shame the way we qualified – with a handball by Thierry Henry – but it is done now.


Manuel Sanda, 46, wine merchant in Stirling, originally from Boimorto in La Coruña.

I moved here in 1998 because of my wife, who works for the diplomatic service. There are a couple of good places to watch Spanish games in London – the atmosphere should be really good, mainly because every Spain fan is very excited.

South Korea

Philip Kim, 28, works for an education agency in North London, originally from Seoul.

I arrived here in 2003 to study at Westminster University and was then offered a job. London's great but things like the slow postal system are frustrating. We'll be watching the matches in Tiger Tiger pub, where we've created a special event – we're aiming to get 500 Korean students to watch the games.


Andy Howson, 26, a financial analyst in London, originally from Melbourne.

I have been here 18 months after I was offered a job. We get on well with the locals – there is plenty of banter over cricket and football. But I'm not a fan of pubs closing at 11pm. I'll be watching England v USA in a pub in Clap-ham, but I'll be in a Walkabout for Australia's matches. It should be pretty full with Aussies.


Elisa Bennaton, 30, works in the Honduran Embassy, originally from Tegucigalpa.

A lot of Hondurans go to the US to learn English, but I came here and love it. London is faster, freer and there is less crime than in Honduras. The English are supposed to be cold, but this English guy has invited us to watch all the games at his pub.


Antonello Bux, 39, a restaurant manager in London, originally from Bari.

I moved here seven years ago to learn English. I like almost everything about the UK – it has a very advanced culture where the rules are not forgotten (like the queuing). But I don't like the way British people drink so much. I believe Italy can reach the quarter-finals but then we might bump into Argentina, who are in another league.


Eleftheria Barbagianni, 29, sales adviser in London, originally from Edessa.

Having been here for nine years now, I like the cross-cultural links and being able to meet lots of different people. The British are quite kind – not as warm or as welcoming as Greeks, but I am very happy here. I will be watching the games with some English friends. I don't think we'll get out of the group stage.


Stephanie Schaerer, 30, a photographer in London, originally from Zurich.

I came here in 1999 meaning to spend three months improving my English. Now here I am, more than 10 years later! It's very expensive to live here but there are so many positives. As I don't know any Swiss in London I will probably be sitting on my own in the corner of a pub somewhere to watch the games.


Obi Ozonzeadi, 36, project manager, originally from Enugu, Nigeria.

There is a freedom of speech, expression in the UK that is unlike many other nations. I will be watching the Super Eagles from my sitting room! I don't drink and I don't want to have anything else distracting me from the matches.