A star is Bjorn in South Africa

Bjorn Diedricks was crowned South African Champion at the FIFA Interactive World Cup Qualifier on Sunday after beating Abubakr Ebrahim in a final full of style and skill that concluded an exciting three-day qualifying event.

As South Africa looks ahead with anticipation and excitement for the FIFA World Cup 2010™ to kick off in Johannesburg, football fans were treated to some fine displays of virtual football as 455 players competed in the FIWC South African Qualifier at Sandton Shopping Centre in Johannesburg this weekend.

If the quality of football that was on display here can be transferred from the virtual pitch to the real one, South Africa will certainly have a great chance of success at the FIFA World Cup in 2010.

17-year-old Bjorn from Glenvista, Johannesburg, played with panache and authority throughout the early stages and took his African style of football into the Final match winning 4-3 with an outrageous and elegant chip over the keeper.

An avid football fan and a key member of Moroka Swallows U-19 team, Bjorn is a natural in all forms of the game and has the confidence to think he will do very well at the Grand Final. The young star said: "This is only my first major gaming tournament but my love and knowledge of the game will help me at the Grand Final where I hope I can win against the best gamers in the world."

Defeated finalist Abubakr, better known as Mikkaeel had taken time out from the online qualification where he currently sits at the top of the African Rankings, to compete in the live South African qualifier. Determined to book his place in the Grand Final in Berlin on 24 May, Mikkaeel will now have to wait nervously and hope he can hold off any late challenges from other players in the online qualification which ends on Monday.

Big names turn out
Players and spectators had the chance to meet and talk to South African football legends Lucas Radebe and Andre Arendse who passed on some of their footballing knowledge to the enthusiastic crowd and put their skills to the test in an exhibition match that Lucas eventually won on penalties.

On the opening day of the three-day qualifier, Kaizer Chief Shaun Barteltt went head-to-head in a virtual exhibition match with Orlando Pirates footballer Senzo Meyiwa, who comfortably beat Bartlett 5-0. Other football stars in attendance included Bartlett's fellow Kaizer Chief mates Gerald Sibeko and Fabian McCarthy who had a chance to come face-to-face with Brian Baloyi of the Mamelodi Sundowns before the two teams met today in the highly anticipated PSL Cup match.

The South African qualifier wrapped up a very busy weekend for the FIWC, with a total of six qualifier events taking place around the world over the past two days. There are only four more live qualifiers remaining with the next stop in Italy on Wednesday.