South Africa is ready to welcome the world with open arms, modern infrastructure, breathtaking venues and efficient security. More than 630,000 tickets have already been picked up by fans form 188 countries and they can’t wait to put on their football jerseys and cheer their favorite teams!
With an expected fan base of 430,000 arriving at South Africa next June, the country is abuzz with activity. Ten world class stadia are being readied for the tournament, of which five are spanking new. Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, located in an area of immaculate beaches, has been declared opened. The stunning Moses Mabhida in Durban with its towering arch that resembles Wembley Stadium even has a cable car that takes you right to the beach front!
Polkwane, the land of the upside down baobab tree and the cradle of ancient civilisations, is to be ready with its stadium by October. As will Nelspruit, South Africa’s very own Garden of Eden. The fifth stadium, Green Point, in the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town is being prepared for a February opening. Green Point is the only stadium in the world with a roof made of glass!
Soccer City, the showpiece venue on the outskirts of Soweto in Johannesburg, has been upgraded with a design that’s takes inspiration from African pottery. With so much of renovation gone into it, it can be called a brand new stadium for all purposes! The 2010 FIFA World Cup opening match is scheduled to be played at this 94,000 capacity stadium. The four other venues of Ellis Park, Free State, Loftus Versfeld and Royal Bafokeng have been upgraded to host the Confederations Cup matches this month.
Jozi, as locals affectionately call Johannesburg, is the financial hub of the African continent. It’s got energy, culture, excitement, as well as, peace and tranquility with 2328 parks forming a large and much appreciated greenbelt. Joberg is also the birthplace of South Africa’s rich football heritage. Professional football began right here in the offices of the old Rand Daily Mail newspaper back in 1958!
It is home to champions Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Jomo Cosmos. When Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates play each other, it is one of the most fiercely contested matches in the world! Johannesburg has also produced famous players like Jomo Sono and Kaizer Motaung, founders of the above clubs. Sono has even had the honor of playing with legends like Pele and Franz Beckenbauer! Ace or Patrick Ntsoelengoe holds pride of place as one of South Africa’s greatest football players ever.
Besides setting the stage for a brilliant 2010 World Cup, great hopes ride on the tournament. With so much spent on infrastructure, roads, airports, security, hotels and soccer merchandise, South Africans want the World Cup to showcase the best their country has to offer in a bid to rebrand it, increase its prestige, benefit its people and act as a catalyst for economic growth. As of now, let the vuvuzelas blow as soccer greats arrive proudly wearing their World Cup soccer jerseys for the Confederation Cup, a precursor to the biggest festival of football in the world!