Local heroes to open Green Point Stadium

HISTORY will be made on January 23 when Ajax Cape Town take on Santos to mark the official opening of the new Green Point Stadium in the Mother City.

HISTORY will be made on January 23 when Ajax Cape Town take on Santos to mark the official opening of the new Green Point Stadium in the Mother City.

The clash between the Cape Town neighbours will form part of a soccer festival that the stadium operators plan to use to test the readiness of the stadium ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Premiership clubs are not involved in any official matches between now and the beginning of February because of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola.

Santos chief operations officer Edries Burton said it was an honour for them and the Urban Warriors to open the stadium.

"It's a wonderful, state-of-the-art facility, I wish I could turn 21 again so that I could play in this stadium," said Burton, a former Bafana Bafana player.

Ajax chief executive officer George Comitis said: "We are excited to be the first to play in this world-class stadium that will also be used for the World Cup."

Ajax player Thulani Serero said: "I have seen the stadium, it's one of the best I've seen in the world.

"I can't wait to see myself playing there."

Stadium operators said they would limit the number of tickets sold to 22000 for the game at the 68000-seater stadium that was built at a cost of R4,5billion.

The stadium that will host eight World Cup matches, including a semifinal, was completed on schedule, just 32 months after the sod-turning ceremony.

After the Ajax-Santos game, there will be a rugby match at the stadium featuring Boland and the Stormers on February 6 for which 40000 tickets will be sold.

Pieter Cronje, Cape Town's 2010 Fifa World Cup director, said: "The stadium is 99percent ready, in fact the contractors are busy with the final touch-ups."

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said the stadium was the biggest project of its kind ever undertaken in the city.

Plato described the facility as "a triumph in both design and construction, despite some challenges during the construction period".

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