SA ready to walk the talk at preliminary draw

Durban, or ethekwini, is a hive of sporting activity this week.

Durban, or ethekwini, is a hive of sporting activity this week.

It would have started with the South Africa-Canada game last night, followed by the Orlando Pirates-Kaizer Chiefs derby on Saturday and the South Africa-New Zealand international cricket match on Sunday.

But the main show is going to be the 2010 World Cup preliminary draw on Sunday afternoon when football associations from Europe, Africa, Asia and North America will be waiting to see who the stumbling blocks are going to be on their way to South Africa in 2010.

The other two football confederations, for South America and Oceania, follow a different set of rules for the qualifying matches. But they will have a presence here on Sunday, in no less a person than the famous Brazilian captain, now coach, Dunga. But ahead of the real deal event, a lot of work is going on to prepare the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre for the event.

In fact, work has been going on for months because it involves a whole range of parties like Fifa, the organising committee of the World Cup South Africa, the City of Durban and the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal.

The first sign indicating that something is brewing in Durban is the number of volunteers manning the welcome stand at the airport, as well as the number of bright orange and yellow flags dotting the route into Durban.

The chief executive of the organising committee, Danny Jordaan, has given clear instructions that there are going to be no compromises in demonstrating to the world that South Africa is indeed very serious in fulfilling its pledge to host the best tournament ever.

This you pick up in the mood in the different units and departments of the OC, where individuals who normally work in offices are now shunting up and down checking that chairs are aligned properly, backdrops are properly put up, desks appropriately organised and that vehicles to ferry VIPs are clean and ready.

There is excitement in the air. Colleagues in the organising committee and from Fifa are checking and rechecking to make sure that everything works like clockwork.

I bumped into the project leader, Dennis Mumble, on whose shoulders the responsibility lies to make this the sterling event it's expected to be, and he was already on his way to the airport to personally receive some of the important guests coming for the draw.

I chatted to another colleague about the accommodation arrangements for some of the visiting journalists. My media colleagues had already instructed me to attend a rehearsal of some of the presentations.

The television show - that is the draw and the entertainment aspects of the show - is going to be rehearsed over the next few days, several times over. The protocol, security, transport systems, etc are going to be given several run-throughs before the end of the week. It is clear the moment of reckoning has arrived.

We are confident as we are anxious. President Thabo Mbeki and other bigwigs in the country are attending, as will be Fifa president Sepp Blatter and other international hotshots.

The first major official event of the World Cup is just four days away, and we are all determined to do the country proud. Come Sunday, we intend to prove that the decision to award the World Cup in 2010 to South Africa was a correct one.

l Tim Modise is the 2010 World Cup SA Local Organising Committee's head of communications. - For your suggestions, queries and more on 2010 e-mail