Germans touch down at OR Tambo in style

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pretoria - The German national squad this morning arrived in Lufthansa's first A380 airbus to touch down at OR Tambo International.

Columbian pop star Shakira, who will be performing in the 2010 FIFA Kick-off Celebration concert, was also on the Lufthansa flight. The concert takes place on Thursday at Orlando Stadium, Soweto.

The good news is that the Germans will be able to occupy their accommodation at Velmore Grande Hotel following Tshwane Mayor Gwen Ramokgopa's announcement last week that the hotel had been granted a temporary certificate that will allow operations at the facility until after the World Cup.

The hotel in Erasmia was booked last year as a base camp for the German soccer team. However, there were reports that the team was advised to ditch the booking because the four star hotel has not been approved by the municipality. Also, national police commissioner General Bheki Cele had raised security concerns at the hotel. But Ramokgopa said those had since been attended to.

The City of Tshwane has already approved a total of seven base camp facilities. One facility is the High Performance Centre in Hatfield, attached to the University of Pretoria, which Argentina has inspected as their potential base camp. The German squad's first training session is expected this afternoon in Laudium, outside Tshwane, and will be open to members of the public.

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma, who will tonight host a gala dinner to welcome FIFA dignitaries to South Africa, has confirmed that Mexico's President Felipe Calderon will attend the World Cup opening match.

Zuma said Calderon will join him in Soccer City for the opening game. Zuma will also bestow the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo to FIFA President Sepp Blatter. The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo is awarded to those individuals who have actively promoted the interests and aspirations of South Africa through excellent cooperation and active expression of solidarity and support.