Moses Mabhida stadium marks 100-days WC countdown on high

2010-03-03 10:53

DURBAN’S Moses Mabhida Stadium was the place to be yesterday as it

hosted the biggest function in South Africa’s celebrations of a 100 days before

the 2010 Fifa World Cup kicks off.

Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president who has been dubbed one of ten

greatest marketers in the world, Republic of SA acting president Kgalema

Motlanthe, South African Football Association (Safa) President Kirsten

Nematandani, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize, eThekwini city mayor Obed

Mlaba, Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Issa Hayatou and SA

2010 Fifa World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) chairman Irvin Khoza were

among the heavyweights present.

Also present were LOC chief executive Danny Jordaan, Fifa secretary

general Jerome Valcke as well as former Bafana Bafana captains Lucas Radebe and

Neil Tovey.

Blatter had the audience captivated as he told of a love story that

started more than 20 years ago between a Fifa development officer (himself) and

the African continent that was now heading towards “a wedding party”.

“This campaign (to host the World Cup) started some 4 480 days

ago. At some stage there were about 2 000 days left,” reminisced Blatter. “And

today, there is only 100 days to go before the first African World Cup kicks

off.”

?

The media gathering was preceded by a tour of the state-of-the-arts

stadium.

The media contingent that has been on tour with the LOC and Fifa to

all the host cities was shown all the facilities inside that stadium.

“My first thoughts at this time is to put on my soccer boots and go

and test that beautiful pitch,” said Motlanthe.

“On a serious note, there is more work to do as we countdown to

June 11. Motar and bricks are now complete and we need to concentrate on other

aspects such as the movement of people. We must ensure that our visitors are

welcomed with a spirit of Ubuntu.”

Motlanthe said the “six pack” of Africa, which is Nigeria, Ivory

Coast, Cameroon, Algeria, Ghana and South Africa, must ensure that at least two

of them reach the final “to ensure that the cup remains on the African

soil.”

At a gala dinner held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International

Convention Centre (ICC) on Monday night, Motlanthe had presented representatives

from the six countries with congratulatory certificates for qualifying for the

World Cup.

Nematandani assured the country: “We will have a decent team come

the World Cup.”

He said from his organisation’s perspective, this World Cup was

more than what will happen on the field.

“It is about the legacy it will leave such as the artificial turfs.

Beyond that we will be using football as a social movement. Our football will

never be the same after the World Cup as it will be a game that touches

lives.”

Khoza said it was important to know that the World Cup will not

just be hosted by a small group of people but all the 44 million-plus

citizens.

“It is history that except the issue of the pitch at the Mbombela

Stadium, we are three months ahead of schedule. The rate at which the Bafana

Bafana jerseys are selling, are proof of the enthusiasm and excitement of all

South Africans.”

Bafana will play a friendly match against Namibia at the Moses

Mabhida Stadium tonight where technical sponsor Adidas will launch a new

jersey.

Tomorrow, coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is expected to announce the

group of 30 players he will take with to a month-long camp in Brazil and another

month in Germany.


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