Confederations Cup shapes up well…except for the weather
For all their scepticism about South Africa’s potential to host the World Cup, the build-up to the test event, the Confederations Cup, has so far gone without any major hitches.
It is a dream scenario for the home nation and FIFA, still trying to temper the doubters and persuade the world all will be ready by 2010, has added to the chorus of congratulations.
Sepp Blatter devoted a good deal of his traditional pre-tournament news conference on Friday to pouring scorn on the doubters.
Admittedly, there is much last minute activity and privately officials have spoken of the frustration of a society where urgency is not always a priority.
But in a country desperate to prove it can put on an event of the magnitude of the World Cup, South Africa is ahead in the PR race.
The only setback, ironically, has been the weather. It might be winter but on the Highveld, where the four venues for the Confederation Cup are situated, the cold season is normally mildly pleasant.
The air is brisk and after hours it gets cold but the days are usually filled with sunshine. Except for this week. Teams arrived to frigid conditions and unseasonal rain and spent the first days bemused by the weather.
The Italians, in particular, made much of the wet. Their friendly win against New Zealand in Pretoria on Wednesday was played in a constant downpour and the non-playing staff and spectators were bundled up as if on an Artic expedition.
The television pictures beamed back to Italy would certainly have put off a few potential tourists, who had planned to come out for the 2010 tournament.
But on the eve of kick off of the first game, South Africa v Iraq on Sunday, the sunshine has come out. Now the pressure is back on the organisers.
PHOTO: South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma reacts after being given a soccer jersey by the national soccer team before their training session at Orlando stadium in Soweto June 13, 2009. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko