'no need to panic'

All reports Ramatsiyi Moholoa

All reports Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Next year's Confederations Cup will be a great platform for South Africa to prove to people around the globe that the 2010 World Cup will definitely be a roaring success.

This is according to Makhenkesi Stofile, the minister of sports and recreation, who is adamant South Africa is well on track with preparations for the World Cup.

The minister has also urged South Africans to rally behind the Local Organising Committee in their preparations for the Confederations Cup and the World Cup.

In an interview with Rama- tsiyi Moholoa (RM), Makhenkesi Stofile (MS) said they were monitoring the preparations of the two events on a regular basis.

RM: Nelson Mandela Sports Complex in Port Elizabeth will no longer be part of the 2009 Confederations Cup, what are you doing to ensure that all the facilities for the Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup will be ready and how often do you assess the progress?

MS: We monitor them weekly.

RM: Baba Mfundisi, your general assessment of South Africa's preparations for the 2010 World Cup? Are we on track?

MS: Yes, we are.

RM. There have been some delays in cities like Polokwane, Mbombela and Cape Town due to labour disputes between the employees and construction companies.

What is the government doing to ensure that we do not experience strikes in all the facilities being built or upgraded for the World Cup?

MS: Strikes are permitted by Law. They can be prevented only by parties adhering to terms of agreements.

RM. Are you not worried when you always hear of the threats that the 2010 World Cup will be taken away from South Africa, things like there is a Plan B by Fifa?

MS: No. These "threats" are only in the media. They have never come from Fifa.

Fifa has made it clear to us that they are fully behind our plans, systems and preparations.

They know what is happening in the country and if they are unhappy, we would be the first to know.

RM: South Africans are worried that Bafana Bafana will not do well in the 2010 World Cup, based on their current form in the qualifiers against Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

As government, what is your take on the state of affairs in as far as Bafana Bafana are concerned and what do you think is the solution?

MS: We share the country's worry.

We proposed that a squad of about 40 boys be allowed to play together for two years, and we got no support.

RM: Do you think Brazilian coach Joel Santana was the right choice for Bafana Bafana?

MS: This is not relevant. Whether or not he is here, and as far as we know, he is executing his duties.

RM: There were reports that Government was planning to nationalise Bafana Bafana. Can you please take us through the proposal and plans to implement it.

Have you (government) discussed this proposal with the South African Football Association's national executive committee?

MS: We have discussed this since 2005.

RM: Comrade Minister, you are the chairman of the Local Organising Committee's legacy projects.

Can you please take us through the projects that you are working on?

MS: Contact Tumi Dlamini (legacy projects manager) in the LOC for details.

RM: Can we say we are on track in terms of our soccer development projects, considering that our junior national teams like Amajita and Under-23s are continuously failing to qualify for continental and global competitions?

The same applies to Basetsana and Banyana Banyana.

MS: No. We are not convinced we are on track.

RM. Your message to South Africans with the Confederations Cup almost 12 months away and the World Cup two years away.

MS: The Confederations Cup is a good opportunity to reassure the world of the readiness of our people and country to be hospitable to our visitors. The World Cup will not come to South Africa again for a long time.

Let us enjoy it and use it to convince doubting Thomases that we are equal to other countries in organising and hosting. We have become part of the family of nations.