Thursday, 2 July 2009

Hosts look ready for 2010 World Cup

It ultimately ended in heart-break for South Africa in the Confederations Cup semi-final against Brazil, but Bafana Bafana will be back.

The competition is seen as a trial run ahead of next year’s
World Cup and the first real test of South Africa’s ability to host such a large sporting contest. There are, of course, the obvious things to assess such as transport and infrastructure, however another important factor is the reaction of the South African public to the competition and their enthusiasm for the tournament.

In that respect it has been an unqualified success. From their Vuvuzela horns emitting a sound akin to a swarm of giant bees to the bizarre custom made hats, the passion of the South African fans has been a real highlight. That passion has been matched with no little skill on the pitch as their side has progressed to the semi-finals and put up a brave fight against 2002 World Champions Brazil. They were the better side for much of the game with Steven Pienaar a constant menace in midfield, but a late Dani Alves free-kick broke their hearts and sent the South American side through to the final to face the USA.

The home fans were devastated, but such reactions bode really well for next summer. In any major tournament the performance of the home side and the support of the home fans are vital to its success. South Africa’s performances on the pitch over the past few weeks certainly suggest they have what it takes to at least be competitive next year. Off the pitch there are no such doubts; the fans have passed with flying colours and they will already be counting down the days until next June when we kick off for real.

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