Johannesburg ready for 2009
With almost six months left before the opening game of the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, the spotlight has now shifted to Johannesburg, the city that will host the tournament's opening game between the hosts and Asian champions, Iraq on 14 June.
Now preparations are underway by the city to create a lasting impression to the scores of visitors who are likely to make the trip to the tip of the African continent to watch the eight top teams as they battle for supremacy in the FIFA Confederations Cup.
So much, rightly or wrongly, has been said and written about Johannesburg but the FIFA Confederations Cup will afford the city a unique platform to market and position themselves as a favourable destination to the scores of visitors expected to flock in the country to watch the world's biggest sporting extravaganza.
"We want to change the misconception some people have about our city, we want showcase to the rest of the world exactly what Johannesburg is capable of doing. I'm confident that we will make the right impression to our visitors," Johannesburg 2010 executive director, Sibongile Mazibuko told FIFA.com.
A double opportunity
It seems as though there is a dual incentive to do well in ‘Joburg'. Bafana Bafana are hoping to win the game against Iraq to give the team greater confidence, while the city also wants to show the world what it is capable of achieving.
Although the recent draw for the Confederations Cup held at Sandton City in Johannesburg went without any hitches, its citizens will realised that they will be even more under the microscope come June 2009.
"People of Johannesburg are very excited about both the Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. We understand the work that goes behind organising an event like the Confederations Cup and we are therefore preparing for all situations," said Mazibuko.
"We have already identified places where we will have public viewing facilities because we know that not everyone will get a ticket inside the stadium. This is an African event and we want to make sure that our people get to experience both events."
A vibrant city
Johannesburg is home to the country's biggest football outfits, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
The city has attracted some major international events over recent years, including the forthcoming Miss World gala, something the organisers believe will raise Johannesburg's profile to the rest of the world as its official seek to bolster its claim as being South Africa's main city during the 2009 and 2010 FIFA events.
Last week, Johannesburg hosted the Soccerex exhibition attended by hundreds of footballing executives from different countries and in the past, Johannesburg has played host to both the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup.