SA makes final touches to Confeds Cup preparations

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Milan - The South African Government says it is putting the final touches to its preparations for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation Gert Oosthuizen said South Africa was just about ready to host the tournament which is being billed as the 2010 FIFA World Cup appetiser.

Mr Oosthuizen was speaking at the launch of South Africa's 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup campaign in Milan, Italy on Thursday.

"After years of hard work by the Organising Committee, the host cities and our government can finally say that we are ready to play host to the Champions of the FIFA Confederations and the World Champions.

"Over the next two months we will be putting the final touches to our preparations for the tournament, which kicks off on 14 June in Johannesburg," he said.

The deputy minister said the Confederations Cup will be the perfect platform to test South Africa's readiness to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"The Confederations Cup is the perfect dress rehearsal for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and we will give your team and supporters a taste of what is to come in 2010. We are looking forward to a festival of football, played by some of the best players in the world," he said.

Mr Oosthuizen said South Africans were looking forward to welcoming the reigning FIFA World Cup champions.

"Our football-loving people are looking forward with excitement and passion to see your team perform well on African soil. You can be assured of a warm reception and great support from the South African public," he said.

He said the government has - since the first bid to host the World Cup - given its unequivocal backing for the project.

"Over the last few years government has invested generously in the construction and upgrading of stadia, in transport infrastructure, telecommunications, safety and security and in the beautification of or cities," said Mr Oosthuizen.

The deputy minister said all hands were on deck to guarantee a successful tournament.

"The private sector has built hotels and improved the hospitality offerings. Many ordinary South Africans have expanded their homes with the wish to play host to some of the many visitors we expect.

"We have done this to ensure that we host a world-class African tournament and that the many supporters leave our shores with memories of an unforgettable African adventure," he said.

The deputy minister further said that visitors to South Africa will experience one of the most diverse and enchanting countries in the world.