South Africa rolls out carpet for Confederations Cup

As the countdown continues for the FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup, South Africa is ready to add a new chapter to their history. When the eight competing teams arrive in South Africa for next month’s Confederations Cup, it will be more than just a dress rehearsal.

“South Africa is ready to give the world one of the best World Cup events it has ever seen,” said Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organizing Committee South Africa, during a press briefing today in New York City. “We will be more than ready.”

Addressing? journalists at a media briefing in the South African Consulate in New York CIty, Jordaan offered a detailed status report on the transportation, infrastructure, stadium construction and accommodation projects that have engulfed the country since it was selected to host soccer’s biggest game in May 2004. Preliminary figures are estimating that 450,000 visitors from around the world will attend the first World Cup held in the African continent.

“For a long time the world held to its belief that any African country could not host an international sporting event whether it was the Olympics or the World Cup,” Jordaan said. “When we were awarded the event, it was a turning point in breaking that way of thinking. But the doubts about our preparedness began short after the congratulations were handed out. Nevertheless, it will be a very successful event for South Africa and the entire continent.”

According to Jordaan, four of the nine stadiums are already completed, with the remaining five stadiums on schedule to meet their FIFA deadlines. The nine host cities for the 64 teams that will play in the World Cup are: Johannesburg (host of the opening ceremony and final game); Durban; Cape Town; Port Elizabeth; Tshwane/Pretoria; Rustenburg; Mangaung/Bloemfontein; Polokwane; and Nelspruit.

“This event is going to provide us with an opportunity to add a new brand to South Africa” Jordan said. “Until 1990 we were known as the country of apartheid, then as Nelson Mandela’s country, and soon we will be recognized as the African country that successfully hosted the World Cup.”

Interest in the U.S. is already creating a buzz, with 93,000 tickets sold in the U.S. during Phase 1 of ticket sales that ended on March 31.? Phase 2 began on March 4 and will run until November 16, 2009.