royal bafokeng ready to rumble

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Construction workers refurbishing the Royal Bafokeng Stadium for the Confederations Cup in June will start with the final touches next week.

"The plan is to hand over the stadium to Fifa early next month," said George Khunou, managing director of Royal Bafokeng Sports Holdings.

The Bafokeng are the owners of the multipurpose facility in Phokeng, which is being upgraded to the tune of R360 million.

"We had an agreement with the construction companies for the workers to continue with the upgrading process during the festive season holidays," said Khunou.

"The only days they did not work were on Christmas and New Year's Day and we want to thank them for helping us ensure that the stadium is ready for delivery in February."

Workers arecompleting the job of putting in an extra 4 000 seats and assembling a new state-of-the-art roof.

The upgraded stadium, which will also be used for the 2010 World Cup, will accommodate 43000 people, up from 39000.

"We wanted to make it a 45000-seater stadium but that changed due to the space that will accommodate the VIP seating area," Khunou said.

He also announced that the relocation of pupils from the nearby Matale Middle School to Phokeng Primary has been done. Matale is also being upgraded for use as a media centre for the Confederations Cup and World Cup, and for parking.

"We can now confidently say we are on track for the Confederations Cup and World Cup. Everybody here is excited," said Khunou.

The upgraded stadium will be unveiled when Bafana Bafana play Norway in an international friendly game on March 27.

Irvin Khoza, local organising committee chairman, has commended the Bafokeng for assisting government with more funds to refurbish the stadium. They have contributed more that R170 million.