Today is the day!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pretoria - When FIFA President Sepp Blatter opened the envelope in May 2004 which revealed South Africa as the first African country to host the soccer World Cup, excitement and jubilation gripped the nation. And now, six years on, the moment all South Africans have been waiting for has finally arrived!

It's been a long road of intense and extensive preparation and anticipation. And today, South Africa will show the rest of the world that we too can dazzle.

The world's biggest soccer event to hit African soil is here and there is no question that the country is ready to host a spectacular and memorable month-long extravaganza.

All participating teams, except Spain, have arrived; visitors continue to flock in at our world class airports; the stadiums stand ready to host the games; the country's roads and infrastructure system looks set to transport the millions of fans who will be travelling countrywide; our police and health facilities stand on high alert and most of all the national squad is ready and set to please the millions of South Africans that are standing behind them in a show of national pride. We are ready! Ke Nako!

In true African style, the mother of all opening ceremonies is set to dazzle fans and spectators at Johannesburg's iconic Soccer City stadium at 2pm as well as the millions of viewers from around the world, who will tune in to watch the spectacular event. The theme of the ceremony is "Welcoming the World Home" and is produced for the Organising Committee by the VWV TILL DAWN Consortium, comprising the VWV Group and Till Dawn Entertainment.

The consortium, which successfully staged the opening and closing ceremonies of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009, will also produce the tournament's closing ceremony on 11 July.

The 30-minute ceremony, with its cast of 1 581 world-class artists, dancers, musicians and performers will precede the historic first African FIFA World Cup's opening match between hosts South Africa and Mexico at 4pm.

Multiple Grammy Award winner R Kelly, will sing the ceremony's showpiece song, 'Sign of a Victory' with South Africa's Soweto Spiritual Singers.

The rest of the world-class line-up for the ceremony features celebrated South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, charismatic Nigerian star Femi Kuti, who will perform the famous 'Bang, Bang, Bang' track, Algerian Afro-pop artist Khaled, legendary Ghanaian band Osibisa, as well as top-class South African artists Thandiswa Mazwai, Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP), TKZee and vocalist Timothy Moloi.

The Ceremony will also feature well-known South African praise singer and poet, Zolani Mkhiva, as well as the music of Letta Mbulu and Chicco.

"The Opening Ceremony features a great line-up of South African and African giants of the music and entertainment industry and will showcase to a worldwide audience of millions the talent, creativity, technology and welcoming spirit and hospitality of the African continent. It will undoubtedly be a real African celebration of joy, life and energy," said the OC's CEO, Dr Danny Jordaan.

Gates to the Soccer City Stadium will open at 10 this morning and the Organising Committee encourages fans to be in their seats by at least 1pm in order not to miss the world-class Opening Ceremony and eagerly-anticipated Opening Match thereafter.

Earlier this week, Bafana Bafana striker Bernard Parker said he was confident of a win against Mexico. He said although Mexico was an experienced side, they would not walk all over them on home soil.

"I know that Marquez is an experienced defender, but should he become more solid, as a striker, I will also get tougher. We want to beat all our opponents and anything is possible at the knock-out stages," he said.