386 days until the start of the 2010 World Cup ...
More importantly, 25 days until South Africa's dry run - the 2009 Confederations Cup.
So how important is the Confederations Cup?
Is it just a dry run for the host country?
Or is it a prestigious football championship, to be fought over like a continental title?
Dr. Nikolaus Eberl of Bizcommunity.com, 'the B2B site of choice in South Africa,' thinks the Cup is mostly about impressions.
At a recent media briefing in Johannesburg, FIFA TV director Niclas Ericson said a lot hinged on the success of the Confederations Cup and how well South Africa does in this tournament. "The impression about SA that visitors will make after the conclusion of the Confederations Cup will be the one that will stay with the international community until the world cup next year.Eberl tries to tie this win with the last incantation of the Confederations Cup, Germany's 2005 dry run of the successful 2006 tournament.
"We expect that there will be a few problems here and there and we welcome criticism from visitors. That is what the tournament is for and hopefully all those mistakes are rectified ahead of the world cup. But there is only room for small mistakes and not big ones," explained Ericson.
What were the pluses and minuses of that tournament?
On the plus side, the tournament was a ticketing success, with 92% of the tickets sold.
The quality of the football was good and host country Germany did well, finishing in 3rd place.
- During the final, which saw Brazil pitted against Argentina, the roof of the Frankfurt stadium was leaking, which caused huge embarrassment, as rain showers were gushing down and the corner section of the pitch was hit badly.
- Security breaches caused German LOC boss Franz Beckenbauer sleepless nights, as more than once so-called ‘runners' jumped the fences and sprinted towards their heroes, in particular Ronaldinho and German goalie Jens Lehman, leaving many observers to wonder whether the German police was up to the task of guaranteeing player safety.
- Ambush branding was a hot topic during the 2005 Confed Cup, when a German automobile service supplier, TüV Süd, launched a branded zeppelin that circled the Nuremberg stadium repeatedly, causing major embarrassment for the organizers.
Can the 2009 incantation do the same? We'll find out, starting in 25 days ...