The focus of the football world’s attention was squarely focused on Cape Town last night as the Final Draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ mapped out the opening rounds of next year’s football showpiece.
In what Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa, Dr Danny Jordaan, described as ,”a great celebration of Africa”, the Final Draw was proof that South Africa is more than ready to put on a show like no other when the 32 teams arrive in the country.
For the Host Cities, last night was a significant moment as, for the first time, they had a clear idea of the teams and the fans they will be hosting next year.
It was soon evident that football fans in the smaller cities such as Polokwane, Rustenburg and Nelspruit will have the same opportunies to capture a glimpse of the football stars expected in South Africa next year.
Speaking after the Draw, Mayor of Nelspruit, Mr Lassy Chiwayo said, “We are excited on a number of fronts. With the 18 giraffes that tower above us at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, we too are ready to walk tall and deliver a great experience. Our people are amazing, warm and peaceful. “
Nelspruit will see Hondurus and Chile battle it out on 16 June 2010, with defending champions, Italy, playing New Zealand on 20 June 2010. All matches will be played in the newly built Mbombela stadium which boasts seating and structures resembling the wildlife of the surrounding areas.
Host city coordinator for Polokwane, Ndavhe Ramakuela, also promises to deliver a different World Cup experience for the teams and the thousands of fans. “We will welcome fans to a natural environment away from the noise and concrete of the city. We will offer something to everyone.”
Polokwane, in the northern province of Limpopo, offers fans that will be travelling to watch the France-Mexico or the Greece-Argentina game on 17 and 22 June respectively a variety of activities including game viewing or visits to the neighboring countries of Botswana and Mozambique.
The regal home to the Royal Bafokeng family, Rustenburg, will see an influx of fans too as they come to watch England against USA on Saturday 12 June 2010. Rustenburg can also expect an influx of African supporters as African favourites, Ghana, play against Australia on 19 June. Spokesperson for the Host City of Rustenburg said that fans will be well entertained and “can expect a royal treatment when they come to Rustenburg.”
Having built a stadium that was ready over a year ahead of the tournament, Nelson Mandela Bay will be entertaining fans from Chile, England, Portugal and Germany as they travel to the Eastern Cape for some superb on the field action.
With similar enthusiasm, says the Mayor of Port Elizabeth/Nelson Mandela Bay, Mr Zanoxolo Wayile, “We are more than prepared in terms of accommodation, transportation, safety and security, entertainment and of course the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium is one of the best facilities in the world. We are confident all ten teams will feel more than at home in a city named after the great man himself.”
With names such as France, Uruguay, Paraguay, England, Algeria, Portugal, Korea DPR, Cameroon, Netherlands as well as a Semi Final match to be hosted by the City of Cape Town, there is certainly a lot of excitement in the ‘Mother City’.
“Just looking at the draw, we were very happy with what we saw. There are some big names there and the tournament in Cape Town will certainly be a huge spectacle,” said Mayor of Cape Town, Dan Plato.
After the festivities on Long Street during the Final Draw celebrations – which saw an estimated 30,000 people take to the streets in celebration – Plato is confident that the visiting teams and fans will be treated to a festival atmosphere throughout the World Cup period.
“As a city we are very happy to host these teams in our stadium and our city. You can see from the vibe last Sunday when we turned on the festive lights in Adderley street and 120,000 people turned up to the party in Long Street last night to celebrate the Final Draw – there is a great vibe in this city and we have shown the world that we are ready for 2010.”
But the eyes of the world will be on Soccer City in Johannesburg on the day the tournament kicks off between host country South Africa and Mexico on 11 June 2010. As the gateway city to South Africa, Johannesburg has two stadiums and is the most central place to accommodate the fans with five of the ten stadiums within four hours driving distance.
Says Christa Venter of Joahnnesburg City, “The opening ceremony is going to be great – we look forward the vibe and seeing the Mexican wave in tandem with the vuvuzela.” Johannesburg will see most of the greats at some stage between Soccer City and Ellis Park stadiums, including Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Italy.