Reuters Soccer Blog
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Welcome to our Reuters podcast on day three of the World Cup. Today’s brief encounter contains expert comment from Brian Homewood, Paul Radford, Theo Ruizenaar and Mark Gleeson plus a bit of fun at the expense of FIFA at the end.
The latest will be played out on Saturday when the citadel of black South African football, the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, plays host to a Super 14 rugby match involving the Blue Bulls, the team so beloved by the white Afrikaners.
We are now less than a week away from the start of the Confederations Cup and the first true test of South Africa’s preparedness to host the 2010 World Cup.
It’s hard for a lot of people to take the Confederations Cup seriously, although in Germany four years ago it did develop into a summer festival and in the end proved a tasty appetiser before the main meal 12 months later.
One cannot fault Tunisian clubs for seeking perfection but you’d think a little more patience is needed if they are ever going to achieve their dream of continental dominance.
Take the case of Etoile Sahel. They have just fired their Swiss coach Michel Decastel for “indifferent results”.
You can understand why the French rarely invite any of their former colonies over for so-called friendly internationals. On Tuesday night they again faced a barrage of abuse in their own backyard, with the vast majority of a sell-out crowd at Stade de France coming to support Tunisia against Les Bleus.
When Algeria played at the Stade de France in 2001, the game was eventually called off midway through the second half after Algerian supporters invaded the pitch. The match against Morocco last year earned notoriety after the jeering during the singing of La Marseillaise.
Africa’s remaining World Cup contenders have to travel north across the Mediterranean, over the Alps and on to Zurich next week to find out who they meet in the battle for places at the 2010 finals.
How ridiculous is it that the draw for the last phase of the African preliminaries will take place in the Swiss city ahead of a first-ever African World Cup and at a time when FIFA is trumpeting all sorts of African initiatives.
South Africa’s hosting of the World Cup is supposed to be a watershed for the world game and the African continent, an opportunity to emphasise the international flavour of the game and at the same time give an under privileged continent a chance to prove its potential and bask in the world spotlight.
To that end South Africa is a flurry of construction as new stadiums go up along with hotels, rail and road projects and a myriad of other infrastructure improvements.