Jomo Sono, originally of the Orlando East section of the Soweto Township, is considered by many to be the grandfather of African football. As a player he was force to leave South Africa in the 1970sowing to the government's racist apartheid policy and find his competition elsewhere. His travels brought him from then all-black Orlando Pirates to the USA, where he played alongside Pele with the fabled New York Cosmos.
"I never had the chance to represent South Africa," Sono told FIFA.com in Durban, South Africa, where he will be acting as ball puller for the Preliminary Draw on Sunday. "When I was a player I could never have imagined that we as South Africans would be hosting a World Cup. It's a great thing for us."
Sono may not have had the opportunity to play for South Africa at a FIFA World Cup™, but he did get the chance to coach Bafana Bafana at a world finals, in Korea Japan 2007. He is now hoping the team can go a step farther and reach the second round on home soil in two year's time.
"I pray that we can go to the second round at least. We must," he said. "In Korea/Japan we had the chance to go through, we came agonisingly close, but were eliminated by only one goal. It is vital, important and crucial for this country to go to the next round. We must make more history."
With established stars like Benni McCarthy and Aaron Mokoena in
Bafana side, coached by Brazilian Carlos Alberto Perreira,
Sono believes youth could be the key to success.
"We have some aging players in the set-up at the moment," said Sono, who owns and coaches South African Premier League club Jomo Cosmos, where he is a leader in the field of youth development. "It is so important that the South African FA gets a proper youth system rolling."
To see the complete FIFA.com video interview with Jomo Sono, click on the link to the right.