SA honours 32 nations participating in 2010

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Johannesburg - South Africa has honoured the 32 nations participating in the 2010 FIFA World Cup by raising each of their national flags during a ceremony at the South African Football Association's (SAFA) headquarters in Johannesburg.

The symbolic flag raising ceremony signalled yet another milestone in South Africa's readiness to host the greatest sport tournament in Africa.

The last six countries, including Greece, Slovenia, Portugal, France, Uruguay and Algeria, confirmed their spot in the event after winning their respective qualifying matches on Wednesday night.

More than 680 000 tickets have been sold and with the confirmation of all the 32 teams in the event, sales are expected to soar in the next coming months.

As the flags went up on Thursday and excitement gained momentum, one could have been easily been forgiven for thinking that the tournament had started.

South Africa's flag was the first to be hoisted as the host country, much to the delight of the spectators and the large media contingency who had gathered to witness this symbolic moment in the history of the African continent.

South Africa's flag was followed by each of the qualifying teams in alphabetical order.

Judging by the line up of the teams that have qualified, there is no doubt that that the six African countries which have qualified will be given a run for their money when the whistle signals the kick-off next year.

With 1998 champions, France joining Paraguay and Portugal among the last teams to qualify, the tournament is sure to be among the toughest in the history of FIFA.

Following their defeat in the hands of Algeria last night, the biggest loser was Egypt.

Algeria caused an upset when they defeated the African giant from the north, but by doing so they registered their name in the list of qualifying teams for the World Cup. This is the first time the team has qualified for the tournament in 23 years.

Local Organising Committee Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Danny Jordaan warned that when all was said and done, it was important for at least one of the "six pack", referring to the six African teams, to make it to the final.

"That is very important in realising the dream of Africa's first World Cup. If one of the African teams do not get to lift the cup, at least one should be in the final," said Jordaan.

His sentiments where echoed by Cooperate Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Sicelo Shiceka, who said he hoped Bafana Bafana would make South Africa proud.

Shiceka said all the 17 government guarantees had been signed and sealed and all that was left was for South Africa to welcome the world next year.

In an apparent response to the recent criticism of the use of Vuvuzela's during matches, Shiceka said government would do everything in its power to ensure that the African soccer instrument formed part of the festivities in 2010.

With the 32 team confirmed, all eyes now turn to Cape Town where the 2010 Final Draw will take place on 4 December.

Friday will mark exactly 200 days to the kick off and a host of activities have been planned to mark this milestone.

The final line up of countries who have qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup is as follows: Nigeria, Cameroon, New Zealand, Japan, Netherlands, North Korea, South Korea, Australia, USA, Brazil, Ghana, England, Paraguay, Spain, Denmark, Cote d'Ivoire, Chile, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Serbia, Switzerland, Argentina, Honduras, Slovakia, Algeria, Portugal, France, Slovenia, Greece, Uruguay and host South Africa