confed cup set to roll

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

As expected, the All Whites of New Zealand have qualified to represent Oceania in the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa from June 14 to June 28.

The All Whites achieved the feat after defeating New Caledonia 3-1 in Auckland on Saturday to become the last country to qualify for the eight nation event.

It will be New Zealand's third appearance in this tournament after featuring during the 1999 and 2003 editions.

Other participating countries are European champions Spain, South American champions Brazil, world kings Italy, Asian winners Iraq, CONCACAF champions the United States, African champions Egypt and hosts South Africa.

The tournament will be played at four venues - Johannesburg's Ellis Park, Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Pretoria's Loftus Stadium and Bloemfontein's Free State Stadium.

Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Eliza- beth was also included in the cities to host the Confederations Cup, but the Local Organising Committee withdrew it, arguing that it would not be ready on time.

Dubbed the "Festival of Champions", the tournament is used by Fifa and the host country to test the readiness for the World Cup.

In addition to topping the Oceania qualifying group, New Zealand have now also earned the right to play off in November next year against the side that finishes fifth in the Asian preliminaries for a place at the 2010 World Cup.

The official draw for the Confede- rations Cup South Africa 2009 takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on November 23.

Tickets for the tournament will go on sale on November 22. Head of the LOC's legal and ticketing division, Leslie Sedibe, has urged South Africans to support the event.