Beckenbauer impressed with SA's 2010 progress

German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer visited the construction site of Cape Town’s 2010 Soccer World Cup stadium on Friday and declared himself “very, very impressed” with preparations.

“I am very, very impressed with the construction going on in Cape Town and it’s fantastic what the people in South Africa are doing in preparing themselves for the World Cup in 2010,” he said.

Speaking after the site visit, Beckenbauer said he was extremely confident South Africa would be ready to host the global football showpiece.

“I am definitely convinced that the 2010 Fifa World Cup will be a success. It’s the biggest opportunity for South Africa. The whole world will be watching this country in 2010.
And as far as I can see they’re on time and I have no doubt all the stadiums will be ready,” said Beckenbauer.

Now a Fifa executive member, Beckenbauer was in South Africa for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Confederation of African Football.

Along with chairperson of the Fifa World Cup organising committee Issa Hayatou, and the chief executive of the 2010 local organising committee Danny Jordaan, “Der Kaiser” visited the site of the picturesque Green Point Stadium on the slopes of Table Mountain and alongside Cape Town’s Table Bay.

“Cape Town is one of the most exciting and beautiful cities in the world. The place could not be better. And South Africa is a wonderful country,” said Beckenbauer.

Germany was still basking in the success of a World Cup last year in which Beckenbauer played a major role, but he advised South Africans to put their own stamp on what would be the first Soccer World Cup on the African continent.

“The best thing is not to copy the German World Cup. South Africa must ensure it’s an African World Cup, with all the continent’s culture and flair. I am sure it will be a great success,” said Beckenbauer.

He was also joined in South Africa by two of his vice-presidents from the Germany 2006 organising committee, Horst Schmidt and Fedor Radmann.

Hayatou, who was last at the Cape Town construction site with Fifa president Joseph Blatter in June this year, was also extremely impressed with the progress made.

Jordaan said it was clear to Beckenbauer and Hayatou that much hard work was being done and that the country was on track and on schedule.

“Leading up to the preliminary draw ... in Durban on November 25 this year the message they will take to the rest of their colleagues on the Fifa executive is that a lot of work is being done.

“The progress made clearly shows we’re on track for a wonderful World Cup. They [Beckenbauer, Hayatou] are getting very excited about Africa’s first World Cup.

That’s very evident when talking to them. The period of doubt from anyone about South Africa’s ability to host 2010 is long gone. People are now only interested in dealing with operational issues,” said Jordaan.

Beckenbauer has written his name over and over again in football as a Fifa World Cup-winning player in 1974, a coach in 1990 and an administrator as chairperson of the Germany 2006 Fifa World Cup organising committee.—Sapa

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