Football fever grips the Cape

THE gleaming World Cup trophy is finally in Cape Town where there is palpable excitement over the tournament being held for the first time on African soil ahead of today's final draw.

THE gleaming World Cup trophy is finally in Cape Town where there is palpable excitement over the tournament being held for the first time on African soil ahead of today's final draw.

Unveiled on Cape Town's redeveloped waterfront, the most coveted prize in sport had, in three months, travelled a distance of 134017km across the globe, visiting every country in Africa en route to the Mother City.

Danny Jordaan, the face of the South African hosting bid that was sealed seven years ago when South Africa defeated Morocco and Egypt in the race to become the first African country to host the tournament, was beside himself.

"It is a night when we say welcome to this trophy in World Cup country. The trophy is home," said Jordaan, chief executive of the 2010 Fifa World Cup Organising Committee.

"This is the end of a dream and the beginning of a new one. We have been dreaming that one day some country is going to come here and compete for this trophy on the African continent. That dream was dismissed, that dream was challenged. Today as we say welcome to the trophy, we announce the death of doubt. There can no longer be any doubt."

But if there was pride and satisfaction that the World Cup show was about to finally get under way, there was concern and uncertainty over just what fate will befall the home side when the June 11 to July 11 tournament gets under way.

Known affectionately as Bafana Bafana, South Africa are mired in a run of poor results but as hosts they benefit from being accorded the top seeding status traditionally given to the home nation.

That means that for the draw they will go into the same pot as heavyweights Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany, Spain, England and the Netherlands and will avoid having to play them during the group stages.

Former Bafana and Leeds United captain Lucas Radebe summed up the feelings of most of his countrymen on the eve of the 90-minute ceremony by admitting he hopes his team is placed in a weak group.

"We are hoping for a weak group although none of the 31 qualifiers are going to be pushovers."

Today's draw has been carefully structured to keep the big boys of world football apart and to separate as much as possible teams from the same continent. - Sapa-AFP

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