keeping close eye

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

The construction of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth requires special attention from the 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee, which it will receive, chief executive Danny Jordaan said.

He was outlining last year's achievements and this year's challenges in preparing for the tournament.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is the only new stadium that will be used for the 2009 Confederations Cup and the World Cup.

But Jordaan was happy with the general progress of construction, stating: "The upgrading and construction of stadiums is on track and being closely monitored."

Jordaan, who is in Ghana for the Africa Cup of Nations finals, said last year was a momentous one for the organising committee.

"We are in the operational phase of the overall comprehensive strategic plan and in an intensive work phase.

"The structures and work flow are becoming streamlined, our interactions are becoming increasingly refined and the stadiums and other infrastructure are progressing with impressive speed," he said.

"The groundwork that was laid in 2007 and will continue in 2008 will be of utmost importance for a solid, reliable event."

Jordaan said that among the highlights of last year for the LOC was the awarding of the International Broadcast Centre to Johannesburg.

He said they were also happy that the match fixtures for the Confederations Cup and the World Cup had been completed and made public.

On the issue of official events, Jordaan said the 2010 World Cup preliminary draw at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban last November was a roaring success and that the Fifa top brass were highly impressed.

Fifa and the LOC also hosted a medical workshop in Kimberley on October 5 and 6 that was attended by leading medical personnel.

Jordaan said: "The workshop helped us gain a more comprehensive understanding of the Fifa health and medical requirements by the LOC medical department, demonstrated government support and the infrastructure and expertise at the LOC's disposal to execute these functions, exposed the professionals earmarked for participation as OC venue medical officers and Medical Advisory Board members to the organisation and its partners," said Jordaan.

Still on the issue of official events, Jordaan was happy that they used the "90 Minutes for Mandela" soccer game successfully to showcase their readiness for the World Cup.

It attracted big names such as Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon, Hossam Hassan of Egypt, Kalusha Bwalya of Zambia, George Weah of Liberia, Daniel Amokachi of Nigeria and Ruud Gullit of Holland.

"We managed the 90 Minutes for Mandela event in Cape Town in July 2007 and a trip to the historic Robben Island where Fifa inducted the Makana Football Association as an honorary member," said Jordaan.

"Fifa honoured the Makana FA for their work during apartheid to fight oppression and the 90 Minutes for Mandela event was a wonderful testament to the power of football.

"We also organised a very successful business opportunities conference in partnership with the South African government in Ekurhuleni and the vast metropolitan municipality adjoining Johannesburg, on June 12."

The conference was opened by Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

Jordaan said they were happy that the official mascot, official poster, official slogan and official emblem for the World Cup and Confederations Cup had been unveiled.

The LOC plans to accelerate the appointment of venue managers at all the World Cup stadiums.

Jordaan said it will increase the daily interaction with the host cities and the implementation of operational requirements in each of the nine host cities.

The LOC will also focus on building on Legacy Projects, which include working with Fifa on the 20 centres for the 2010 World Cup.

Some of the major events that the LOC will target for promotion of the World Cup and where it will send locals to gain experience on issues like volunteering, are:

l The Afcon in Ghana;

l the Euro Cup finals in Austria and Switzerland;

l the May 15 celebrations in Rustenburg and the North West province; and

l the Beijing Olympic Games.

Regarding projects and challenges for this year, Jordaan said they were working hard to ensure that the venues must be completed by December 31.

He added that access roads to stadiums and a general program on the transport roll-out plan are among the issues being attended to by the relevant people. "Water, electricity, safety and security needs consistent monitoring," he concluded.