VUVUZELAS brayed and construction workers cheered as President Jacob Zuma kicked off the one-year countdown to the 2010 World Cup in Cape Town yesterday.
At a ceremony in the city's nearly completed R4,45billion Green Point Stadium, Zuma booted a Fifa-approved soccer ball off a stand while VIPs and stadium workers looked on.
The tournament will kick off on June 11 next year at Soccer City in Johannesburg.
"One thing is certain," Zuma told his audience, "we have proved to the world that South Africans are special people. When we have challenges we always rise to the occasion."
He paid particular tribute to the workers, who had been given the afternoon off to attend the ceremony, saying they had made history.
Earlier local organising committee chief executive Danny Jordaan said the day was a wonderful one for everybody.
"We've travelled the journey for 15 years. Now - with one year to go - it's a very, very special day," he said. - Sapa