Mokoena: No place like home
Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena believes that following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, people will look back and say 'well done' to South Africa. Recently speaking exclusively to FIFA.com at Blackburn Rovers' senior training centre, Brockhall, the combative midfielder also urged his compatriots to show their support for the country by buying tickets for the forthcoming FIFA Confederations Cup, which gets underway on 14 June.
South Africa have been drawn alongside Egypt, New Zealand and Spain in Group A of the 'Festival of Champions', and Mokoena believes that these matches will be a great litmus test to discover how well prepared the team are for next year's global showpiece. "We're going to have to play against experienced opponents with good players, but the fact that we're playing on home soil, that's an advantage," he said.
The skipper also stressed that South Africa could be spurred on to greater things by playing in front of full houses, packed with people looking to get behind the side. "One thing I know about South Africans is that they're so passionate about football, and as I know how passionate they are, we as a team and as a country need to join hands," he continued.
"We need to make this the best Confederations Cup ever and when the World Cup comes round, make it the best World Cup ever. Hand in hand we can really achieve our goal, and hopefully South Africans will go out there and buy tickets, which is what we really need. We need them to come and support players so the players can do their job for their country."
Mokoena, who has had spells with Bayer Leverkusen in Germany and Dutch giants Ajax during his career, is in no doubt that the FIFA Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup will be a huge success. "I think that people are so doubtful about South Africa hosting the Confederations Cup and World Cup and doubt that it will be successful," he said. "People think that no country in Africa is ready to host massive tournaments, but as we know South Africa hosted the Cricket and Rugby World Cups successfully.
"I'm sure that people will look back and say 'well done' to South Africa and 'well done' to Africa as a whole, because we need these kinds of tournament to develop the African continent. Obviously we need people out there, in the world, to help Africa to do so. I hope that people will also say 'well done' to them too as they managed to help the African continent to host the World Cup successfully."
This is a busy time for Mokoena. At present he's doing his best to help secure Blackburn Rovers' Premier League status for another season, before linking up with his international team-mates to begin their preparations for the FIFA Confederations Cup. However, 28 May is an important day for the man himself, as it will witness the launch of the Aaron Mokoena Foundation, a charity which he hopes will aid development of young footballers from a variety of backgrounds in South Africa.
"They are our future and football is one sport that can really change lives," said the 28-year-old. "They look at us every day and we are their role models, so I really wanted to touch their lives and give them the right direction."
You can watch FIFA.com's exclusive video interview with Mokoena, for free, by clicking on the link to the right, in which he also discusses his pride at being the captain of South Africa, his relationship with Carlos Alberto Parreira, and his memories of the day when South Africa was awarded the 2010 FIFA World Cup.