The eagerly-awaited FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 gets underway at last just two days from now. The eyes of Planet Football will be trained on South Africa for two whole weeks, as stars representing the six continental champions, the FIFA World Cup™ holders and the host nation go in search of glory. A keen and excited sense of anticipation is already filling the air in the four host cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane/Pretoria, Rustenburg and Mangaung/Bloemfontein. And you the users of FIFA.com can also hardly wait for the action to start!
Italy, Spain and holders Brazil go into the tournament as favourites, but perhaps the climate is ripe for a shock outcome too. Huge numbers of users think Egypt have the resources to upset the big three, as the African champions amassed an impressive 43.92 per cent of the votes in our latest poll, where we asked you which of the contenders was most likely to mount a serious challenge to the European pair and the South American giants.
Egyptian fans hoping for improvement
The side coached by Hassan Shehata, who were followed in our survey at a respectable distance by the USA on 24.93 per cent, arrive in South Africa burning with desire to make amends for recent disappointments. The ambitious Egyptians have made a miserable start to the final and decisive round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ with a 1-1 draw at home to Zambia and a 3-1 defeat away to Algeria. The 'Festival of Champions' offers the perfect opportunity for the North Africans to make amends to their crestfallen fans. "I really hope our national team plays well at this tournament, so we recapture our former strength on the road to the World Cup after that," commented Egyptian user ahmad_AHLY.
South Africa picked up 13.80 per cent of the votes, just ahead of Iraq on 13.39 per cent, and the hosts can certainly be assured of the passionate support of an entire nation at the FIFA World Cup dress rehearsal. Finally, 3.95 per cent of you plumped for Oceania champions New Zealand. "Let’s go, All Whites! Show the world what you can do! If you need advice on how to succeed in South Africa, you should ask the All Blacks," wrote blacksquid from Japan, a user who clearly knows his or her rugby as well as football.
Kaka sets pulses racing
Superstars and scintillating skills lie at the heart of football’s enduring and worldwide appeal. Naturally, that also applies to this summer’s tournament in the host nation for the next FIFA World Cup finals, in advance of which FIFA.com users have taken one very special Brazilian to their hearts. Kaka, FIFA World Player of the Year for 2007, topped another recent poll here at FIFA.com, when we asked which of the global superstars you were most looking forward to watching at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009.
No fewer than 35.22 per cent of you nominated the attacking midfielder, a key member of the Auriverde line-up which sets out to defend the prestigious trophy over the next fortnight. Spain striker Fernando Torres came second behind Kaka on 29.22 per cent. The Liverpool hitman is hoping to follow up last year’s European championship triumph with the goals propelling his country to success in South Africa. Egypt marksman Amr Zaki came third on 22.72 per cent despite doubts over his fitness at the present time, followed by Andrea Pirlo of Italy on 7.72 per cent and USA schemer Landon Donovan on 5.13 per cent. "Kaka is a great player," Brazilian legend Pele once declared in an exclusive FIFA.com interview, but can the 27-year-old midfield genius restate his world-class credentials yet again out in South Africa?
A football paradise for all
Nerve-tingling excitement is guaranteed at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009, and you can stay on the ball at all times with our truly comprehensive coverage here at FIFA.com!
We have exclusive interviews, features, previews, match reports, post-match analyses and videos, our EMIRATES MatchCast service including our renowned live ticker and fan chat, plus the Castrol Index with its breathtaking array of facts, figures and stats. Last but not least, we’d like your opinions via our Have your say forum. Choose from five language versions of the site – we’ve recently added Arabic to the range on offer.