The countdown to South African's moment of glory in 2010 when the country becomes the first African country to host the FIFA World Cup™ has been gaining momentum across the continent. The people of Africa are waiting with bated breath to welcome the thousands of visitors who are expected to descend on the country for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
With only 18 months left until the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, some of the continent's finest sportsmen voice their opinions on the legacy they believe the tournament will leave.
Former Liverpool goalkeeper, Bruce Grobbelaar
For me, it's not about the number of days left. I think we need to celebrate the work that has been done, the energy that has gone towards making the FIFA World Cup a success. We know that there were a lot of people who were saying that Africans cannot organise an event like this and I guess the results are there for everyone to see. I'm looking forward to the tournament. Finally, its Africa's time.
Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers
The 500 days is a significant milestone for all South Africans. The work that is being done to build our infrastructure for the event is very impressive indeed. The event will leave a fantastic legacy for future generations in South Africa and provide a major boost to our efforts to make all sports accessible to the youth of our country. I'm looking forward to witnessing the 2010 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony and the subsequent sporting extravaganza.
Olympic winning silver medallist and long jumper, Khotso Mokoena
This is a very important period in our history and I hope that everyone realises that we have a responsibility to rally behind our country and be true patriots. Everywhere I go, I always tell people that South Africa is a great country and I know that we will do well during the FIFA World Cup.
South African football legend and Kaizer Chiefs chairman, Kaizer Motaung
The memories of 15 May 2004 when President of FIFA announced that South Africa would host the World Cup in South Africa are still fresh in my mind. It is hard to believe that we are left with less than 500 days before the kick-off of the world's biggest sporting spectacle. As a former footballer myself, I am honoured that during my lifetime, I have taken part in preparations for the upcoming tournament. There is no doubt, nor has there ever been in my mind, that come 11 June 2010, South Africans will make Africa and the world proud.
Former Bafana Bafana and Charlton Athletic defender, Mark Fish
A lot of work has been done and I'm confident that we will host a fantastic FIFA World Cup. As we count down the days before the big moment, I think we must always remain humble as a country and grateful to FIFA for entrusting us with a huge responsibility of organising this event.
South African cricket team captain, Graeme Smith
You watch the FIFA World Cup so many times on television and you get to see the vibe and the atmosphere. Even for us who have experienced Cricket World Cups we know the football one is the biggest of them all. Our country will handle the challenges of the tournament superbly. Obviously, this one is on a huge scale but we have hosted previous massive events extremely well. We look well prepared and I think the people of South Africa will want to make it count. The one thing about South African people is they always want to give a good impression of their country and make other people feel at home - it's something we're very good at.
Rugby World Cup-winning South African captain, John Smit
Congratulations to the 2010 FIFA World Cup LOC for reaching the 500-day milestone. It seems like such a long time ago that hosting this great event was merely a dream for South Africa. The fact that we are now counting the days emphasises the reality of it all and should be a cause for excitement for all South Africans. I look forward to our country opening its doors to the global soccer community in 2010 and wish the LOC everything of the best in the months that remain before kick-off.
Former boxing world champion, Welcome Ncita
I think these are very exciting days for our country and the fact that we are now within the 500 days to the FIFA World Cup makes the situation even more exciting. As South Africans, we are very proud of this moment and as someone who has fought around the world, I think the tournament will do a lot to shape the image of the African continent to the rest of the world. This is bigger than anything that has happened before in this continent.
SAFA President, Dr Molefi Oliphant
We are encouraged by the hard work and thorough preparation of all aspects for the FIFA World Cup in 2010. The vigilance and professionalism exercised by men and women involved in delivering both the FIFA Confederation Cup and the FIFA World Cup are greatly appreciated. We are also pleased by the general mood of excitement in the country, football matches are getting more competitive, and supporters of the beautiful game, young and old are attending matches in great numbers, while many more are watching matches on television, as it will be the case with the upcoming FIFA competitions in our country.
Premier Soccer League CEO, Kjetil Siem
This is, arguably the most exciting period in the football history in this country. The countdown to the world's biggest sporting spectacle will no doubt bring about lots of joy as South African soccer lovers gear up to support this event. I'm encouraged to see the progress made and I'm confident that South Africa will pull off the best FIFA World Cup ever. I urge all South Africans to get behind the event as your unwavering support, dedication and commitment to the event will ensure a resounding success.