socceroos will be first to touch down
THE Australian soccer team will be the first to touch down in South Africa for the historic 2010 World Cup tournament.
Sowetan has learnt that the Socceroos will land at OR Tambo International Airport in Ekurhuleni tomorrow morning.
They arrive as head coach Pim Verbeek is keeping his fingers crossed for three of his regular players to recover in time for the June 11 kickoff.
The trio, Scott Chipperfield, Harry Kewell and Mark Schwarzer, were rested for yesterday's friendly against neighbours New Zealand.
Verbeek, who has announced that he will step down as coach after the World Cup, is confident that the Socceroos will advance to the next round.
He is also upbeat about South Africa hosting a great World Cup.
"This will be my seventh or eighth time in South Africa and I have always enjoyed being here, even as a tourist. It will be a fantastic World Cup for me, there is no doubt about that."
Australia are in Group D with Germany, Serbia and Ghana.
Their opening match is against Germany at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium on June 13. The Local Organising Committee, led by chief executive officer Danny Jordaan, will be at the airport to welcome the Socceroos.
On Friday the mighty Brazil will land at the same airport minus Ronaldinho, who was not included in the World Cup squad by coach Dunga.
Brazil, who won the Confederations Cup in South Africa in June, are in Group G with Ivory Coast, North Korea and Christiano Ronaldo-led Portugal.
Denmark will arrive in the country on Saturday. The Danes are in Group E with Holland, Cameroon and Japan. Most of the teams were still confirming their arrival dates with the organising committee at the time of going to press.
lAustralia beat New Zealand 2-1 in Melbourne yesterday.