PMB may be Paraguay team’s city of choice as training base

2010-01-02 00:00

PARAGUAY are reported to have decided on Pietermaritzburg as a home base for the 2010 World Cup, having abandoned plans to be based in Mossel Bay.

The Paraguayans, who are drawn in Group F along with Italy, Slovakia and New Zealand, initially agreed to use Mossel Bay in September. However, the South Americans have decided to move from the Western Cape to KwaZulu-Natal due to the state of Mossel Bay’s training ground.

While Paraguayan newspapers have reported that the team’s base they will choose in KZN will be Pietermaritzburg, Msunduzi municipal manager Rob Haswell could not confirm this, saying negotiations are at a “sensitive stage”.

“We have put in a bid for Paraguay to use Pietermaritzburg as a home base, but that’s all I can say at this stage,” Haswell said yesterday.

“We have not spoken directly to the Paraguayan Football Association, but to people who are in contact with them.

“We have simply put in an offer of being able to provide accommodation and a training facility at Harry Gwala Stadium. I have put it to them that Pietermaritzburg offers a combination of coastal conditions and altitude.”

South American news agency Efe reported that Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino visited the Mossel Bay training facilities following the World Cup final draw in Cape Town at the beginning of last month, and found the upgrading of the facility was not up to standard.

“We went to see the site ori­ginally chosen [and] we noticed that the property selected for training was not in the expected condition,” he said at a press conference, indicating that Pietermaritzburg was the team’s second option.

Martino said the Paraguayan association will be responsible for nullifying the contract signed with Mossel Bay, on the grounds that it “is breached after we note that progress in the chosen city”.

Paraguay open their World Cup campaign against Italy in Cape Town on June 14, play Slovakia in Bloemfontein on June 20 and then New Zealand in Polokwane on June 24.

The owner of the hotel in Mossel Bay where Paraguay were due to stay, Point Hotel’s Louis Harris, told the team’s decision to move to KZN “came as a bit of a shock”.

“It’s already made quite a negative impact in the town. We spent a lot of money upgrading the fields ... but there is a problem with the pitch, which has too much gradient.

“Fifa’s regulations say training bases must be similar to World Cup venues. However, the Cape Town Stadium has a gradient of 0,6, while ours is almost 1,0.”

Paraguay are expecting more than 6 000 of their fans to follow them to South Africa for the World Cup.

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