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bafana 'still have lots of work to do'

By unknown | Mar 30, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Bafana Bafana are not ready to take on the giants of world soccer . just yet.

Bafana Bafana are not ready to take on the giants of world soccer . just yet.

That was the sober assessment of Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke yesterday after watching Bafana defeat a tired-looking Norway 2-1 in the Nelson Mandela Challenge played at the revamped Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Saturday.

Valcke pulled no punches when asked what he thought of Bafana's chances in the Confederations Cup in June.

"To be frank, Bafana are lucky they are in an easier group. Had they to kick off the tournament against the likes of Spain or had Brazil or Italy been in their group, I think they would have been in trouble," the Fifa boss said at a media briefing.

"They still have a lot of work to do. But we are hoping as the host nation they will qualify for the semifinals."

Bafana open the dress rehearsal for the World Cup next year against Asian champions Iraq at Ellis Park on June 14. They play New Zealand next and finish their Group A programme against Spain.

The top two teams from the group qualify for the semis. Spain are clear favourites to win the group with Bafana tipped to finish second.

Brazil, Italy, United States and Egypt are in Group B, the "group of death".

Valcke also admitted mistakes were made at Saturday's reopening of the Royal Bafokeng Stadium as regards control of fans getting into the stadium.

"We were told there were only 900 tickets out of 43000 not sold and yet the stadium looked half empty," he said.

"The reason is because fans were forced to walk about 2km to get to the ground and we believe thousands of supporters could not get in because of security and other reasons.

"It was not a Fifa event but a Safa one. It was used as a test for the Confederations Cup. We will be able to resolve this access problem for the Confederations Cup."

He said the s tadium was up to standard and got the green light from Fifa, reserving special praise for the pitch.

Valcke criticised the organisers because the game started later than the advertised 3pm kickoff.

He also took another swipe at the LOC for the lack of promotion of the Confederations Cup.

A total of 200000 out of 264000 tickets have been sold. More category four tickets costing R70 have been put on the market and companies who do not infringe Fifa's rules are allowed to buy bulk tickets for their staff.

But Valcke is surprised by the fact Bafana play to half empty stadiums at home. - Sapa


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