Fifa adviser convinced SA is prepared for big event

South Africa is well-prepared to stage the Confederations Cup from Sunday onwards, one year ahead of hosting the World Cup, according to adviser for the ruling football body Fifa.

"I believe the country is well-prepared. We will have the odd problem in organising scheme, just as it was the case in 2005 in Germany. But I don't foresee any major problems," Horst Schmidt said yesterday.

The eight-team tournament from June 14 to June 28 in four cities is a test of South Africa's readiness to host the first World Cup in the continent next year.

Ever since the nation was awarded the showcase football event, doubts have been raised in many aspects ranging from stadiums to security and general infrastructure.

The appointment of Schmidt, 67, a vice-president in Germany's organising committee for the 2006 event, was one measure to help the hosts get ready for the huge undertaking.

Schmidt said he was not immune to the doubts, wondering for instance "whether all my input would move the project ahead. Of course I could see the risks. The question does arise whether the country has the capacity to organise the World Cup well and to provide the whole infrastructure," he said.

Schmidt said the Germans have shared almost every document from 2006 with their South African counterparts and that he at times had to use restraint not to force through his views.

Schmidt doesn't expect many foreign fans for the Confederations Cup but despite modest ticket sales, he is pleased with "a general enthusiasm in the country". - Sapa-dpa