2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

11 June - 11 July

2010 FIFA World Cup™

African great bowled over by Soccer City


With its official roof wetting ceremony last week, Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg is soon to become one of the iconic football cathedrals of the world.

What next year's global audience might not know is that Soccer City is not in fact a new stadium. Although having now gone through major renovations - with just the west stand remaining from the old stadium - the ground holds a special place in the hearts of many South Africans. Few will forget the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in 1996 where the South African National Football team lifted the African Cup of Nations trophy at the then FNB Stadium, only a few years after being readmitted back into international football.

That tournament and the stadium also holds a special place in the memory of Zambian football legend Kalusha Bwayla, who won the Golden Boot award at that tournament helping to secure third place for Zambia. Regarded as one of the best football players to come from the continent of Africa, Bwalya scored 50 goals in 100 international matches for his country.

"If you hadn't told me that we had played here in the third and fourth place play-off at the African Cup of Nations I would not have recognised this place," said Bwalya on a recent visit to the stadium that will host both the opening match and the final of next year's tournament.

"I think the stadium is fantastic, unbelievable. The people who come here to watch football will enjoy themselves and it will certainly inspire the players," said Bwayla.

For Bwalya the magnificent stadium is a testament to the hard work of South Africans who have toiled to ensure that the stadiums are ready in time.

"I am really proud that this World Cup is going to be held here and the workers that helped build this stadium can be very proud to. It is hard to think we were here two or so years ago and today it looks like this. South Africa and Africa can be very proud to have a stadium that is suitable to host the World Cup."

Travelling extensively around the world as a 2010 FIFA World Cup ambassador, Bwalya believes that, now that the teams are starting to qualify, excitement is growing fast for the football spectacular.

"Teams have started to qualify and when I was in Egypt for the Under 20 World Cup, fans from these countries were asking me questions wanting to know what I could tell them about the World Cup. Everybody wants to know how things are going."

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