4 December 2009
According to some of the world’s football greats, who have travelled from far and wide to Cape Town to attend the Final Draw for the 2010 Fifa World Cup™, what millions of people see on TV on Friday night and when they arrive in South Africa next year will come as a pleasant surprise.
Brazilian football legend and former World Cup winner Cafu said he was more than impressed by what he had seen in South Africa since his arrival last month.
“When I was in Brazil I thought [the Final Draw] would all be well organised, but I did not know it would be so well organised. I am honoured to be here and to be part of this week so far,” said the retired footballer who still holds the record for the most number of caps for Brazil – 143.
But while Cafu has been surprised by what he has seen, former England great and World Cup Ambassador Gary Mabbut believes it is the travelling fans who will get the biggest surprise next year.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the world will be surprised by what South Africa has to offer. We are going to give the world a big surprise and I don’t think the world is ready for it. I believe everybody is going to get a huge wake-up call when they see what South Africa is capable of,” Mabbut said.
His sentiments were echoed by Jamaican Football Association president Captain Horace Burrell, who encouraged football fans to visit South Africa next year.
“Come to South Africa. It is going to be an experience that you will never have expected. It is going to be fun. It is going to be filled with laughter. There will be dancing and singing and vuvuzelas being blown in the stadium. It is going been a massive party the likes of which the world has never seen. South Africa is the place to be.”
Burrell dismissed concerns that a poor showing from the South African national side would have a negative effect on attendance figures on next year’s tournament.
“People are going to be coming here for an exciting time. The world will be here, and my personal view is that whatever happens, this World Cup is going to be the greatest one of all. Based on the tremendous amount of interest from all over the world, I believe the stadiums will still be full even if South Africa don’t do well.”
With Cape Town hosting a number sporting icons and celebrities, thousands of people will gather in the city centre to see them arrive and many more will attend the Fifa Fan Fest in Cape Town’s Long Street to watch the Draw.
The galaxy of football stars attending the event includes Luis Figo, Abedi Pele Ayew, George Weah, Garry Mabbut, David Beckham, Ruud Gullit, Fernando Hierro and Gabriel Omar Batistuta.
Beckham, who will be a draw assistant tonight will be joined on stage by two-time Olympic gold medallist and nine-time athletics world champion Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, South African cricket legend Makhaya Ntini, John Smit, the captain of the world cup winning South African rugby team, and South African football player Matthew Booth.
Oscar winning South African actress Charlize Theron will be the guest presenter and will assist Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke, who will be in charge of the actual draw.
Guests tonight will include Issa Hayatou, chairman of the Organising Committee for the Fifa World Cup, Nobel Peace Prize winners FW de Klerk and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as former football icons Franz Beckenbauer, Michel Platini, Eusebio, Marcel Desailly and Roger Milla.