Tuesday, October 24, 2006


South Africa will be the first African country to host the World Cup.
South Africa president Thabo Mbeki has vowed that his country will confound international sceptics by meeting all its deadlines and stage a well-organised World Cup in 2010.
Speaking at a workshop attended by senior officials from football's world governing body Fifa, Mbeki said his government would spare no effort to ensure the tournament passes off smoothly when it is staged in Africa for the first time.
"There is absolutely no reason why 2010 will not surprise the sceptics not only about the prowess of the millions of African footballers, but also about Africa's capacity successfully to provide an outstanding home for a global tournament of universal joy and celebration," said Mbeki in Cape Town on Tuesday.
"Each and every one of us will spare no effort to ensure that everything necessary for a truly successful (tournament) is done on time, and preferably ahead of schedule, meeting all the specifications set by Fifa and all the things expected us by the billions of football fans across the world."
Fifa president Sepp Blatter voiced concerns last month that construction and renovation of the 10 stadia due to stage matches had still to begin in earnest, saying he had "yet to see the pickaxes and spades needed to start the work".
German football legend Franz Beckenbauer, the chief organiser of this year's finals, also warned recently that the tournament in South Africa was "beset by big problems".
However Danny Jordaan, the head of the 2010 local organising committee insisted last week that South Africa was "well ahead of plans based on a timeframe set by us and Fifa."
Mbeki is due to stand down a year before the finals but he said that a successful tournament would be his government's main priority.
"I would like to assure the Fifa delegation that is with us today that our government and the entirety of our people have dedicated the period up to 2010 to the resounding success of the World Cup," he said.


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