Lula hails World Cup

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pretoria - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has sung South Africa's praises for hosting a "memorable" World Cup.

"I am happy. I am satisfied that the World Cup in South Africa was a good one. Africa can be proud to have organised this and South Africa can be even prouder," said Lula, who was speaking at the Union Buildings during his state visit to the country.

He said his country will learn from South Africa's experiences about what it would take to stage FIFA's quadrennial showpiece in 2014.

Brazil will stage the 2014 World Cup - the second time the South American nation has hosted the tournament since 1950.

President Jacob Zuma said South Africa was ready to share the lessons gained.

Zuma joked that he would have preferred the final match to be between South Africa and Brazil but unfortunately this did not materialize.

South Africa was knocked out in the first round while Brazil was knocked out in the quarter-finals by the Netherlands.

"South Africa will settle the score with Uruguay in Brazil at the 2014 tournament. I am sure that you will want to do the same with the Netherlands."

Zuma said he was very excited about the way the soccer tournament had proceeded.

"All the 32 teams that have played in this tournament are winners. And all the millions that have watched the competition from the comfort of their homes, from stadiums or fan parks are also winners. It has been a tournament of champions."

Meanwhile, Lula might not attend the World Cup final game between Spain and the Netherlands on Sunday. He said he has been travelling for eight days- and there were other commitments back at home.

He refereed to the recent floods that engulfed the north-eastern regions of that country, claiming a number of lives.

Zuma said he would not be persuading Lula to stay for the ceremony as he would have done the same.

Already, Lula has visited Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.