Confirmation that World Cup soccer has arrived on the shores of Africa is little more than a week away.
The reality for many in the soccer fraternity -Ã¢â‚¬’ especially in Africa — will only sink in when they watch the preliminary draw beaming out from Durban’s International Convention Centre (ICC) to television screens across the world.
Durban will see an estimated 3 000 delegates attend the first official 2010 Fifa World Cup preliminary draw to be held on African soil starting next Thursday, culminating in the actual draw on Sunday.
Figures surrounding media coverage were not immediately available, but Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke said: ”170 territories have booked the TV feed for this event, which is a new Fifa World Cup record and yet more proof of the huge interest in South Africa 2010”.
The draw takes place on Sunday at 5pm.
Exempt from the draw are South America, whose qualifiers are already under way in a home-and-away league format, and Oceania, whose preliminary competition began with the South Pacific Games in August.
The draw will commence with the Asian zone, followed by Concacaf, Europe and finally Africa.
”The draw will give viewers all around the world an excellent taste of what lies in store for them in 2010,” said Valcke.
Meetings of various Fifa bodies and the local organising committee will take place in Durban before the football family comes together for the draw.
On November 24, the organising committee for the World Cup will focus on the final preparations for the draw and the approval of the draw procedure for each of the geographic zones, while also deliberating on the match schedule and ticketing issues.
South African legends Kaizer Motaung, Jomo Sono and Lucas Radebe as well as Ali Daei (Iran), George Weah (Liberia), Abedi PelÃ© Ayew (Ghana), Kasey Keller (United States) and Marcel Desailly (France) will be on hand when Valcke conducts the draw.
Anant Singh’s film which recounts the story of the Makana FA, an association founded by the inmates on Robben Island, More Than Just A Game, will premier on November 23 at the ICC.
But while the world’s focus will be on the preliminary draw, it has not gone unnoticed in international media that construction workers building the Moses Mabhida Stadium a mere five kilometres away from the ICC have downed tools.
The National Union of Mineworkers is threatening to halt the construction at other stadiums in the country if the Group 5 company does not meet their demands.
City bosses and LOC organisers will no doubt be hoping that the strike is resolved before the 3 000 delegates and associated media descend on Durban. – Sapa