Africa prepares for football festival

A few days before the opening of the 19th World Cup on the 11th June 2010, South Africa wants to say: “Yes, we can”.

Awarding the World Cup to an African country posed a great challenge for South Africa. During 2006 to 2007, rumours circulated in various news sources that the 2010 World Cup could be moved to another country. But rumours are what they remained. After three years of work, one billion invested and five new stadiums built of the ten planned, South Africa seems ready.

There are however, fears remaining about security. Following the trouble surrouding the two matches between Egypt and Algeria and the terrorist attack on the Togo national team which took place in Angola in January before the beginning of Africa Cup of Nations, security arrangements have been strengthened. South Africa wants to host the 300 000 expected fans in the best conditions.

This competition is very important for the whole country. It should help to develop the country. There will be 129 000 jobs will be created however, these will not resolve all the poverty problems.

South Africa’s success in the Rugby World Cup in 1995, the last big event organised in Nelson Mandela’s country, saw both white and black South Africans unite and it is unquestionable that there is hope that the World Cup will do the same.

South Africans would like to see their soccer team succeeding like their rugby team but they are not blind. It will be an adventure. Chances for the South African team are very slim. South Africans and bookmakers don’t see Bafana Bafana reaching the knockout stages.

The favourites are Spain and Brazil. European champions in 2008, Spain has an impressive squad, including Iniesta, Xavi, Torres, Fabregas, Villa and Xabi Alonso. Moreover, Spain benefit from one of the easy groups with Switzerland, Honduras and Chile.

For the other favourites, Brazil, it will be harder. With Côte d’Ivoire, Portugal and North Korea, Brazilians should be ready for a hard group stage but Brazil remains Brazil with five World Cup wins.

Argentina, with their jewel Messi, who is currently Fifa’s world player of the year and Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo have their chances. England, Germany, Holland and also France have the potential.

However, maybe the best outcome will be an African succeeding Italy’s win in Germany in 2006. South Africa would like to say: “Yes we can.”

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