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Govt: 2010 pessimists will ‘eat their words’

Pessimists who doubt South Africa’s ability to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup will have to ”eat their own words” in 2009 when all preparations for the event will be completed, Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi said on Tuesday.

During an update on the government’s progress on preparation for the World Cup, Moleketi said some people had ”targeted 2010” to reflect their negativity about South Africa and Africa.

”They’ll have to eat their own words at the end of the day, come 2009 when everything is ready.

”They’ll have to think of something else to be negative about … and they will think of something,” he said.

His statement came after repeated assurances from soccer’s world body, Fifa, the local organising committee and the South African government that the tournament will take place in South Africa had not managed to quell rumours that it might be given to another country.

Moleketi said the government planned to fight the pessimism with regular updates, not only by itself but also by the private sector on the preparations for the tournament.

He gave a progress report on some of the 24 projects, including the building of new stadiums and infrastructure, which had to be finalised for the successful hosting of the event.

Work on all the stadiums needed for the World Cup will be finished in October 2009, Moleketi said.

He said work on all the stadium projects had started and that R1,9-billion from next year’s budget will be brought forward to October this year as the ”tempo of construction” increases.

He said work on some of those stadiums is likely to be finished ahead of time.

An announcement on which South African city will host International Broadcast Centre is also ”imminent”.

Moleketi said one of the three possible cities, Cape Town, Johannesburg or Durban, had already been eliminated and the remaining two were asked for some additional information before the final decision is made.

He would not say which two cities are still in the running but said an announcement is expected very soon.

As for match planning, Moleketi said Johannesburg’s Soccer City will be the venue for the final with the new Green Point stadium in Cape Town and the new Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban hosting the semifinals.

The nine host cities will each host some of the first-round matches with Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Pretoria, Rustenburg, ort Elizabeth and Bloemfontein hosting a game each in the second round.

The quarterfinals will be played in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, with the play-off for third place taking place in Pretoria. — Sapa

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