Monday, November 19, 2007

2010 World Cup Comes Into Focus


We're 933 days from the opening game of the 2010 World Cup. The Finals inch closer and closer.

The footballing world is already abuzz with excitement as we head to November 25, 2007, the day Durban, South Africa hosts the draw for the 2010 World Cup qualifying ties and groups.

The ceremony, which includes a section of typical African entertainment, will feature the draw to determine the pairings and groups for the 2010 World Cup preliminary competition. Exempt from the draw are South America, whose qualifiers are already underway in a home-and-away league format, and Oceania, whose preliminary competition began with the South Pacific Games in August 2007. The draw will commence with the Asian zone, followed by CONCACAF, Europe and finally Africa. The results can also be followed live on FIFA.com.

Dr Danny Jordaan, the Chief Executive of South Africa's Local Organizing Committee, is very enthusiastic: "As the first official associated event of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the preliminary draw is of paramount importance to us at the organizing committee. We have a unique opportunity to demonstrate our ability to organize a world-class event to an expectant local, continental and international community. We've worked tirelessly for months on end to ensure all is in place for this special occasion and we are confident that all visitors to our country will revel in our uniquely African hospitality."

Some of Africa's finest musical talent will be performing at what promises to be a highly energetic and dynamic Preliminary Draw show at the Durban International Convention Centre. The theme is 'Africa is the theatre, South Africa is the stage,' and that has been reflected in the artists chosen to perform. According to Lesley Sedibe, the architect of the Preliminary Draw Show, it will be "infused with color and texture" and even the draw pots will be African-themed.

Jordaan added: "It is important to express in a concrete way, what we mean when we say it is an African World Cup, but it is also an excellent World Cup and every aspect must suggest that."

The Preliminary Draw, the first official FIFA event for the 2010 World Cup on African soil, will be watched by a global audience of millions across the world.

Arguably the most recognizable music will be excerpts from the world-famous Disney musical, The Lion King, which this week celebrated its tenth anniversary on Broadway.

One of Nelson Mandela's favorite groups, the internationally-renowned Soweto String Quartet, whose music is a fusion of the dance rhythms of local kwela, mbaqanga and swaying African jazz will also be part of the festivities, as will MTV Music Award winners Freshlyground, one of the country's most successful bands.

Judith Sephuma, whose debut, platinum album 'A Cry, A Smile, A Dance' was released in 2001 and won several awards, will also be part of the show's line-up, along with three of South Africa's finest voices, the Afrotenors - Africa's answer to the Three Tenors

And last, but by no means least, one of Africa's most celebrated artists, Senegal's Yousssou N'Dour, will add his distinctive West African flavor to the draw. N'Dour, who performed the Official Song for the 1998 FIFA World Cup will become the first man to appear at a FIFA World Cup Final and a Preliminary Draw when he takes to the stage.

The draw itself will be conducted by FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke, who will be able to count on such famous names as South African legends Kaizer Motaung, Jomo Sono and Lucas Radebe as well as Ali Daei (Iran), George Weah (Liberia), Abedi Pele Ayew (Ghana), Kasey Keller (USA), former French World Cup winner, Christian Karembeu and Marcel Desailly (France) as his assistants.

I wish I could go! Thanks to FIFA.com for the information presented in this article. It sounds like a wonderful event and a great way to kick off the countdown to the 2010 Cup.

It's almost here, folks!

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