Friday, February 27, 2009

Will Nigeria Make the 2010 World Cup?


Will Nigeria make the 2010 World Cup?

According to Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu, the answer is a resounding YES.

Many pundits voiced concern after a below-par outing against Jamaica in an international friendly in London two weeks ago. But Amodu isn't concerned in the least.

"We are not worried by the comments, because at the end of the day, we know where we are going. Is it better for us to break bones and win a friendly against Jamaica and then go below strength to a World Cup qualifier in Mozambique and lose?

"That is the critical question. I want the team to win every match, the entire technical crew wants the team to win every match, but there are situations you get to that you know there is nothing in being penny-wise and pound-foolish."

MY POV: I tend to side with Amodu here. It was a friendly. Nothing to get too excited about.

Now should they falter in their next Cup qualifier ... well, watch out. The knives will be sharpened, calling for the coach's head.

After the Super Eagle's poor showing at the African Cup of Nations last year, a poor run in Cup qualifiers will not sit well.

Aboutrika BBC Interview


Here, a BBC interview with Egypt's Mohamed Aboutrika ahead of receiving the BBC African Footballer of the Year award. Interesting when he says he'd like to play for a top European club some day ...

To read the full interview, please click above.

Inas Mazhar: What does it mean to you to win the BBC African Footballer of the Year Award?

Mohamed Aboutrika: Of course this award is a prize, a wonderful present to me. Egyptian players have been nominees in the last few years - I remember seeing my teammate Mohamed Barakat win it too. Also, two years ago I remember when I was in the nominees for the BBC's African Footballer of the Year and reached second position. Luckily this year I came top of the list and won it. It's an honour for both Egyptian football and my club Al Ahly, I am very happy to be the winner for this year's edition.

What was 2008 like for you, with the Nations Cup and the Champions League with Al Ahly?

Aboutrika: 2008 was a tremendous year. It started in the best possible way when we were crowned champions of Africa for the sixth time and ended with a victorious African Champions league season, which I believe we rightly deserved.Overall it was an opportunity for me and my team-mates to play attractive football and be a showcase for Egyptian football across the world.

What can you achieve with Egypt in the future, in 2010?

Aboutrika: We're going to be put to the test with the challenges of our international duties coming up. Going to South Africa for the Confederations Cup won't be an easy ride and it couldn't get more intense as we're reaching the final stages of the World Cup qualifiers. We're expecting fierce competition with our group opponents. Our ultimate aim will most definitely be reaching the 2010 World Cup finals.

You've recently turned down an offer to play professionally in Saudi Arabia and to remain with Al Ahly. What do you think about your career with Al Ahly?

As long as my "flame of goals" is still lit and glowing I will keep playing football. I'll keep pushing myself to the max. Once that flair has gone, then there will be a time where I will have to stop and realise I've worked hard, achieved my goals and dreams, and say farewell to the game, to the world of football. But so far my goals are still alive - for both my club and my national team.

You've received many offers also to play in Europe, but why have we never seen you in Europe?

Aboutrika: I've received many offers from many clubs but most of them were not honourable enough for my club to consider. However I do still have the desire to excel and play for a big team in Europe, and as long as the offer is sufficient enough for Al Ahly I believe they won't prevent me from leaving and achieving one of my wishes in football.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Capello caught cold by Spanish lesson

Fabio Capello wanted his players to prove they can cope with the best but in the end he was left to deny that England had taken a step backwards in their 2-0 humbling by Spain.

The wily Italian has masterminded an unblemished start to qualification for the 2010 World Cup but England on the night were no match for the technical mastery of the Euro 2008 winners.

It was England's first defeat in nine games but it was the manner of the dismantling by Vicente Del Bosque's men at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium that will have given Capello his biggest headache.

England were missing the dynamism of Wayne Rooney and athleticism of Steven Gerrard but lacked the mobility and fluidity to shackle the vibrant Spain playmakers Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.

Gareth Barry and Michael Carrick did a manful job of putting the brakes on the Barcelona favourites, but ultimately spent a large part of the night chasing shadows.

And while Spain can boast an impressive front partnership of David Villa and Fernando Torres, England, without wishing to be unkind, looked a tad inferior as Gabriel Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey failed to strike up any kind of understanding.

The need for a genuine world-class threat up front could not have been any more palpable in Seville.

Next up for England is a friendly against Slovakia on March 28 ahead of a crucial World Cup qualifier with Ukraine on April 1 and Capello has acknowledged his players need to raise the bar again.

"You learn more in defeat and yes, this could be our most important lesson of the year," Capello said after the Spain defeat.

"The next time we play a game like this we will all understand what we have to do."

Nick Walsh writes features and betting previews for Betfair.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2010 World Cup Facts and Figures


From news service Reuters, a facts and figures chart on 2010 World Cup tickets.
How many of you have applied? Was the process easy?

TICKET NUMBERS

* Just over 3 million tickets will be available for the 64 matches of the tournament, to be played in 10 different venues across South Africa

* Around 1.5 million tickets will be sold to the public. This is divided into 740,000 tickets on sale from Friday; 570,000 made available later in the year to supporters of qualified countries and 344,000 to those who buy tickets through an official tour operator

* World Cup sponsors are entitled to 550,000 tickets with a further 380,000 for hospitality rights holders. TV rights holders are entitled to 66,000 tickets

* FIFA will keep 200,000 tickets for member associations who do not qualify, give 89,600 to each participating country's football association and give the local organising committee 91,000 tickets to distribute

WHERE TO BUY

* Tickets are to be sold through FIFA's website (www.fifa.org), starting on Friday at 11 a.m. British time.

* In South Africa, tickets will also be sold through an application form and pre-paid credit card available at bank branches throughout the country

WHEN TO BUY

* There are three types of sales phases: random selection (phases one and three), first-come-first-served basis (phases two and four) and a last-minute sales phase

* The first phase closes on April 15 after which applicants will be told whether or not they have succeeded in their bid to buy tickets * The second phase is from May 4-November 16, the third is from December 5 until January 22, 2010, the fourth is from February 9 to April 7 and the last one starts on April 15, 2010, when FIFA still expects tickets to be returned to the pool.

WHAT TO BUY

* FIFA is selling two types of tickets: individual match tickets and a team-specific ticket series package, allowing fans to follow the national team of their choice. This can go up to seven games depending on how far the team progresses.

* Supporters can choose from any team that still has a chance of qualifying. If the team does not qualify, their purchase will be refunded.

* FIFA will give 120,000 free tickets to people from poorer areas of South Africa * Individuals may apply for up to four tickets per match to a maximum of seven matches.

TICKET PRICES

* Prices range from $20 (14 pounds) for the cheapest ticket to $900 for the most expensive.

* Opening match tickets range from $70 to $450, Group-stage tickets from $20 to $160 and knockout-stage tickets are priced from $50 to $600.

* World Cup final tickets are $150-900.

WHERE TO PICK THEM UP

* Tickets will be physically available only from April 2010 from specially created ATM terminals at dedicated ticketing centres, where successful applicants insert their credit card and tickets are printed automatically. These machines will be situated in the host cities and at airports.

(Compiled by Mark Gleeson in Johannesburg; Editing by Sonia Oxley)

Monday, February 23, 2009

216,975 Fans Want to Go to the 2010 World Cup!


Applications from 128 countries for 216,975 World Cup tickets were received Saturday via the FIFA website 24 hours after tickets went on sale across the globe, FIFA officials said.

WOW!

The biggest number of orders came from South Africa followed by Britain, the United States, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Switzerland, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and Argentina.

"These are fantastic numbers, underlying yet again the fervor taking hold around the world for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the first on the African continent," David Will, chairman of the FIFA ticketing sub-committee, said.

"It is very exciting and further evidence that the global football family wants to be part of this unique event on this very special continent," the statement quoted him as saying.

"We are absolutely ecstatic with the phenomenal response of football fans around the world to the start of ticket sales for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa," chief executive officer of the FIFA local organizing committee, Danny Jordaan, said.

Fans have until midnight March 31 to make their ticket applications on the FIFA website.

FIFA has about three million tickets available for 64 matches ranging from 80 dollars for group stages to 900 dollars for the final.

Tickets will be available in three types of sales phases: the random selection draw, the first come first served, and last minute sales.

MY POV: So ... did you apply? Are you going to South Africa for the Cup?!?

Friday, February 20, 2009

2010 World Cup Tickets NOW ON SALE!


Get them now! 2010 World Cup tickets are now on sale!

"The fervour is already palpable within South Africa and all around the world: everyone wants to take part in this extraordinary event. Our ticketing policy has been drawn up to reflect our determination to ensure that FIFA's flagship competition is accessible to all football fans. We hope that you will come and enjoy the game!" said FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke.

FIFA today kicked off the ticket sales process for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with the launch of the first sales phase, which will last from February 20 to March 31, 2009. Tickets for the biggest sporting event in the world can be requested online via FIFA.com.

"The start of the ticket sales kicks off the chance for fans from all over the world to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend a FIFA World Cup match in South Africa. We have strived to give everyone a fair and equal chance to access a ticket, so that that all people around the world have a possibility to enjoy the wonderful celebration that we will have next year," added Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa.

All applicants who register correctly by the end of the first sales period will have an equal opportunity to obtain tickets, as this sales phase is not on a first come, first served basis. A random draw will be conducted on April15 to determine which applicants receive tickets for oversubscribed matches.

For more information about the ticket sales process, please go to FIFA.com.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Next Zidane is 6 Years Old!

I'm sure you've seen this clip already, but it bears watching.

He's 6 years old and boasts an impressive array of skills. He's basically untouchable among players his own age. He can even replicate the great Zinedine Zidane's signature moves.

Then again, he is only 6 years old ...

But maybe, just maybe we'll be seeing this kid on the Road to the 2022 World Cup?

You never know!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Will the Recession Affect World Cup Ticket Sales?


The world wide economic recession has affected many people.
But how will it influence sales of World Cup tickets, which go on sale this Friday?

FIFA is unsure how the global recession will affect World Cup tickets sales, but hopes to sell out every game for the competition in 2010.

"I'd be a very stupid person to say there will not be any effect on the World Cup from the global recession but the problem is we don't know just how big an impact it will have on the World Cup," David Will, chairman of the FIFA's World Cup ticketing committee, told a media briefing.

"The footballing public are a very peculiar group and they might not be too bothered about the global recession or even losing their jobs to go and follow their teams at the World Cup. It is our aim to sell every ticket in every stadium for every match."

From a total stock of around three million tickets, some 740,000 will be available for purchase during a first sales phase that runs until April 15.

Tickets will be sold through FIFA's website and in South Africa through bank branches.

MY POV: I know the recession has affected my ability to purchase tickets at the present time. But hopefully that will change soon, what with a stimulus package being passed in the United States government just hours ago.

Still, one has to wonder about the affect the recession will have. South Africa is very far away from the hotbed of World Cup soccer, Europe. How many people will purchase tickets to an event far, far away when they can sit in the comfort of their own home and watch the matches for a mere pittance?

Of course, there's nothing like being there - live - for an event. And this promises to be an 'Event' with a capital E. I'm just unsure who's going to be able to go. Or more importantly, will the common man (Joe 6-Pack as they call him in the States) be able to make their way to the world's biggest sporting event?

In my case? By hook or by crook.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Drogba Back to Marseille?


Can it be? Might Chelsea striker Didier Drogba be on his way back to former club Marseille?

According to the BBC, Marseille president Pape Diouf insists he will do everything possible to bring Didier Drogba back to the French club.

The Ivory Coast star joined Chelsea from Marseille in 2004 and spoke recently about the possibility of "finishing his adventure" with them.

Diouf admits Marseille cannot match the wages Drogba earns at Chelsea but thinks there could be ways around it.

"You can't exclude thinking of other scenarios, like the boy accepting a pay cut, efforts on our part," he said.

"We must talk to our supporters in adult language," Diouf told 10 Sport, a French sports magazine.

"They know we do what we say, and vice-versa. To say to them, 'We are going to win the Champions League' or 'Drogba is going to return', I will not allow myself to do it - that would be showing them a lack of respect. On the other hand, to say to them, 'Like you, I really want Drogba to come back and if there is a possibility of doing it, I will do it', that I can guarantee them. Each time I see him, I say to him, 'Now Didier, get your bags together and come back here!"'

Just last moth Marseille had dismissed talk of a move for Drogba, labeling him "inaccessible" at the moment.

MY POV: That could make for some drama, eh? But seriously, I can't see Drogba returning there just yet. Maybe after a move to Italy or Spain.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blatter: African Teams Will Have Hard Time in 2010 Cup


FIFA President Sepp Blatter told reporters at a meeting of the Confederation of African Football in Lagos, Nigeria today that it would not be easy for an African team to win the 2010 World Cup, even though the event will be held in the continent.

The FIFA president noted that it would be difficult for African teams to contend with the teams from Europe and South America, adding that "Africa may be ready to win in five years time."

Blatter also agreed that 2010 World Cup in South Africa would be particularly busy for Africans, and praised the growth of football in Africa.

On whether South Africa's failure would affect the turn out of fans at match venues, he said such fears and worries were unfounded, citing examples of how the failure of Switzerland and Austria did not affect the 2008 European Championship.

He hopes an African team will play in the final of 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

MY POV: I think it's ambitious to think an African team will get to the 2010 Final. But in 5 years time? Maybe.

Jordaan: Get Your Tickets NOW!


As the day to buy World Cup tickets fast approaches, South Africa Local Organizing Committee (LOC) chief executive Danny Jordaan has urged South Africans not to wait until the last minute to purchase tickets.

An estimated three million tickets are expected to be made available globally, starting on Friday.
15% of these will go on sale exclusively to South African citizens.

Jordaan said South Africans should "rush out and get their tickets" from this weekend to avoid disappointment.

"We would like to see the stadiums full of South Africans during the World Cup," said Jordaan.

"People should be mindful that they won't be able to buy a match ticket on the morning of the game or at the gate. South Africans have to buy their tickets early."

Millions of soccer-mad spectators across the world will be scrambling for World Cup tickets starting on Friday.

Prices range from $20 (R140) for category 4 tickets, which are exclusively available to South Africans, to $900 (R6 300) for a category 1 ticket for the final.

In 2006, the cheapest ticket cost 35 euros (R357).

MY POV: Hope I get some good seats! South Africa, here I come!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

African Teams Slide Down World Rankings


FIFA released their world rankings last week and African teams feel heavily ... ouch!

Cameroon dropped two places to 16th and are now the only African side in the top 20.

Nigeria were 17th but have fallen six places to 23rd in February's list.

The biggest decline sees African champions Egypt drop 15 places from 15th to 30th position.

The Pharaohs' slump in the table is due to less importance being placed on their results over the last three years - namely their successes at the African Cup of Nations in 2006 and 2008.

The wider decline in the rankings of African teams is caused by the fact that FIFA place more emphasis on recent results than those over the past four years.

Ghana's Black Stars are down 10 places to 35th, while Ivory Coast are down nine places to 36th.

The only non-movers from Africa in the top 50 are Morocco, who remain in 41st position.

The African sides that dropped down this month will be looking to improve on their positions in the upcoming final round of World Cup and African Cup of Nations qualifiers, which begin next month.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Arsenal Linked With Steven Appiah


Looks like Arsenal are the latest club to be linked with Ghana skipper Stephen Appiah, who is out of contract and available on a free transfer.

Appiah trained with Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur for almost a month, but coach Harry Redknapp has failed to sign him up.

The 28-year-old has had persistent knee injuries that have brought his club career to a halt, but he continues to feature for the national side and scored in the Black Stars’ 2-2 draw with Egypt in Cairo yesterday.

Appiah has previously played for Fenerbahce, Juventus, Parma and Udinese.

MY POV: Would be a nice pickup. His persistent injuries haven't helped his career but he's a good player and needs consistent play to achieve his former level. I love this move.

Just Because: Zidane Goal in Champions League Final

I watched Zinedine Zidane's wonder goal in the 2002 Champions League final when he played for Real Madrid and fell in love with the Beautiful Game all over again ...

Goals like this are why I'm infatuated with the game. Enjoy!

Results of African Friendlies


While much of the world watch Spain defeat England and Diego Maradona's Argentina floor France, the African continent saw a slew of international friendlies.

How did the African teams fare? Let's find out!

Egypt 2 Ghana 2

Probably the match of the list, African champions Egypt played out a thrilling to-and-fro encounter with visitors Ghana.

The Pharaohs took the lead after 40 minutes through Middlesbrough midfielder Mohamed Shawky.

The Black Stars equalized just seven minutes into the second half when a cross hit Hani Said on the arm and the penalty was converted by Stephen Appiah.

The clubless midfielder also featured in Ghana's second with 12 minutes left as his shot rebounded off goalkeeper Essam Al Hadary for Prince Tagoe to slot home the rebound.

But the home side managed to hit back six minutes from time when striker Emad Moteab controlled a loose ball and beat goalkeeper Richard Kingson from close range.

Nigeria 0 Jamaica 0

Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu insisted his side's goalless draw against Jamaica in London had served its purpose as a useful warm-up for their World Cup and African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.

"First and foremost, we had an opportunity to come together as a team," he said.

"We came together as a family and we can project a lot of qualities."

Nigeria dominated for spells in the second half and had their chances, the best coming from two Ike Uche headers.

The game was overshadowed by an incident two minutes before half-time when Jermaine Johnson seemed to shove linesman Darren Cann after squaring up to Nigeria's Taye Taiwo. The two were sent off.

"As Arsene Wenger says, I didn't see it," said Jamaica coach John Barnes.

South Africa 0 Chile 2

The 2010 World Cup hosts' five-match winning streak ended with a 2-0 home defeat to Chile.

Jorge Valdivia and Alexis Sanchez scored a goal in each half to seal victory for the South American side.

The home side, meanwhile, were left to rue missed chances and defensive errors.

Striker Benni McCarthy saw his powerful header from a Teko Modise cross easily saved by Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in the first half.

He then hit the upright from inside the box on 57 minutes after Bravo had parried Tsepo Masilela's ball into his path.

It's now a case of back to the drawing board for Joel Santana's team - who are already out of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying - as they prepare for their next friendly against Norway in Rustenburg at the end of March.

The defeat did not surprise the Bafana Bafana coach, however.

"Chile had a very strong team who know what to do out on the field," he said.

"They made us hurry through everything. It was a good friendly for us. These are the type of games we need and we have to apply now what we have learnt."

Here is a full list of match scores from around the continent:

Mali - Angola 4-0
Egypt Ghana 2-2
Morocco Czech Republic 0-0
Cameroon Guinea 3-1
Turkey Côte d’Ivoire 1-1
South Africa Chili 0-2
Tunisia Netherlands 1-1
Algeria Benin 2-1
Libya Uruguay 2-3
Burkina Faso Togo 1-1
Mozambique Malawi 2-0
Nigeria - Jamaica 0-0
Tanzania - Zimbabwe 0-0

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No fear, Capello tells England

Fabio Capello has demanded his England players put down a 2010 World Cup qualification marker by beating Euro 2008 winners Spain in Seville on Wednesday.

And the Italian has every right to feel bullish about the nation's prospects of an international upset if the form lines are an indicator.

The Three Lions ended 2008 on a high with victory over Germany in Berlin and Capello is urging his players to carry on that momentum at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium ahead of a critical juncture on the road to South Africa.

"We want to see players who have no fear and plenty of confidence," he said.

"This is a very important step for me. We have to play against all the teams in the world convinced we can win."

England have taken a maximum 12 points from their opening four Group Six qualification games, but Spain have proved they can finally mix it again with the international big-boys and have the upper hand against Capello's men.

They have also started their Group Five campaign in ominous fashion having also won their opening four qualifying games.

They beat England at Old Trafford in February 2007 and at the Bernabeu in Madrid in November 2004, and this is reflected in the latest football odds.

They will be without influential Barcelona defender Carles Puyol because of a thigh injury, but still boast the likes of Liverpool superstar Fernando Torres, Valencia dangerman David Villa and influential Nou Camp playmakers Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta in their ranks.

David Beckham stands on the brink of equaling World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore's outfield appearances record of 108, while in-form West Ham striker Carlton Cole could start if Emile Heskey fails to recover from an ankle problem.

James Milner's impressive club form for Aston Villa has put him in the frame for a starting spot, although Michael Carrick and Gareth Barry will feel they did enough against Germany to warrant another start.

Victory against Vicente Del Bosque's men is by no means a formality, but England, as the latest football betting odds would suggest, could spring a surprise.

Nick Walsh writes features and betting previews for Betfair.

Adebayor Wins African Player of the Year Award


Congratulations to Togo and Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor who today won the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) Player of the Year Award.

The Arsenal scoring machine won the award ahead of BBC African Footballer of the Year Mohamed Aboutrika of Egypt.

The award was decided by a poll of African national team coaches, and CAF's figures gave Adebayor 74 points to Aboutrika's 53.

Adebayor scored 24 goals in the English Premier League last season. He also scored four goals in three games for Togo in their World Cup qualifiers.

"I'm highly honored by what I have done in African football," said Adebayor at the awards ceremony in the Nigerian city of Lagos.

"Now that the World Cup is coming close and is in Africa, we'll work hard to win the championship."

Aboutrika won the Inter-Clubs Player of the Year award, for locally based players.

His club, Al Ahly, was voted Club of the Year, while African Cup of Nations winners Egypt won the National Team of the Year award and their coach Hassan Shehata was voted Coach of the Year.

MY POV: Great honor for the lanky striker. While I thought Aboutrika was the best African player this past year, one can't really argue Adebayor's merits. He had a sensational season and deserves the accolades.

Congratulations once again!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Never Left a Comment Before? Let's Start Now!


Readers of Road to 2010 (I know there are some of you out there) will notice small changes taking place over the next few months.

One of the many things about my readers I'm interested in is what you want to learn more about on the road to the World Cup, what you'd like to read about and what you think I can do to improve the site.

So, I'm encouraging you to use this post to leave a comment and tell me your thoughts.

It would give a much broader picture of the diversity of the readership and some clues as to what makes people come back and keep reading the site.

In the comment field under this post, please take a minute to leave a comment answering the following questions (you can answer some of them, all of them, or just one of them - whatever you’d like):

What is your geographic location?
How did you find Road to 2010?
Why do you keep coming back to Road to 2010?
What do you want to read more about?
What can I do to improve the site?

You do not have to leave your real name in the “name” field below - feel free to make up whatever name you wish. I fully understand the desire for privacy and I don’t want this to be an intrusion on your privacy at all, just an attempt to get a feel for the people out there reading Road to 2010.

Thanks for your time and see you in South Africa! I HOPE!

How to Get Tickets to 2010 World Cup


We're a mere 485 days from the start of the 2010 World Cup ... seems like a long time, but in reality, it's right around the corner!

The world's biggest sporting event kicks off on June 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The first tickets to the event go on sale February 20, 2009.

The first of a total of five sales phases for tickets will run from February 20 to March 31, 2009, with tickets being allocated by a random selection draw for over-subscribed matches and ticket categories.

All orders will be entered into a random selection draw on April 15, 2009 at the same time regardless of whether they were submitted on the first or the last day of the first sales phase. Should demand exceed availability for a certain category or match then available tickets will be awarded by ballot (i.e. through an electronic random selection draw).

That's a mouthful!!

According to FIFA's press release:
There are two ways for fans to order tickets: firstly, you can log on to FIFA.com, the official website of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa where fans can sign up for the FIFA.com Club for free. Those living in South Africa can also order tickets via the "FNB Visa Official Mascot Pre-paid card" available at First National Bank (FNB), by filling in an official application form and handing it in at one of the participating FNB branches around the country. The "FNB Visa Official Mascot Pre-paid card" will be the unique Ticket payment card for the fans who are successfully awarded tickets through the official paper application forms handed in at FNB branches in South Africa.

As well as individual tickets for the 64 matches, team-specific ticket series are also available for the country of your choice. These are valid for anything from three to seven games.

Tickets are available in three categories with category 4 reserved exclusively for South African residents. The least expensive ticket in category 3 costs $80 USD.

There will be four further sales periods for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, with the second running from May 4 to November 16, 2009. During this period, tickets will be attributed based on the order in which the application is received and, of course, subject to availability.

All information on ticket sales is available on FIFA.com. Sign up for the FIFA.com Club for free and take part in competitions, meet new online friends, set up your own personalized version of FIFA.com and get all the latest news from around the world of football in a weekly newsletter.
So make sure to sign up for the FIFA.com Club, check FIFA.com, fill out the application and hope your number comes up!!

Good luck!! I'll see you in South Africa!

A Slew of African Friendlies


Tomorrow is World Cup qualifying for some of the world (USA-Mexico and some Asian Cup qualifying).

For Africa, it's all about getting ready for March's final Cup qualifiers.

With that in mind, the BBC's Durosimi Thomas looks ahead at the African friendly matches taking place on Wednesday ...

Nigeria play Jamaica in London.
Tunisia squares off against the always-tough Holland.
Reigning African champions Egypt play Ghana in Cairo.
South Africa plays Chile in Polokwane and Turkey takes on the Ivory Coast in Izmir.

Following is the Nigeria-Jamaica preview. Please click the link for a full preview.
This game is certain to attract a big crowd, given the large Jamaican and Nigerian communities living in London.

The John Barnes-coached Reggae Boyz are way below the Super Eagles in the world rankings, and Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu has named a strong squad.

Chelsea's Jon Obi Mikel, Joseph Yobo of Everton and Portsmouth's Nwankwo Kanu are set to turn out.

Amodu has stressed he sees the game as a crucial part of his preparations for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, which begin in March.

Friday, February 6, 2009

'Only God Can Move This World Cup'


"Only God can move this World Cup."

So said World Cup Local Organizing Committee (LOC) chief Danny Jordaan to a session of the South African Parliament's sports and recreation yesterday.

Brash words but I suppose confidence is what is needed now from South Africa and their organizing chief.

Addressing the committee on the country's readiness to host the world's biggest event, Jordaan said Plan B was "long dead" and that there was no other country in the world ready to host a World Cup in less than 18 months.

He said the world was "focused" on South Africa and that hospitality packages worth millions of rands had already been sold for the tournament.

"We are going to deliver this event, there is no doubt about that," said Jordaan. "We have some of the best stadiums in the world and have a track record of hosting world-class events. We have the experience.
We hosted rugby and cricket World Cups, the All Africa Games, the Athletics World Cup and a number of other events - only God can move this World Cup. Only a natural disaster could lead to it being moved elsewhere."

MY POV: Thatta boy, Mr. Jordaan! Keep it up! We need more of this from you!

History of African Football DVD's from FIFA


The holiday season may be over, but this is THE gift of gifts for the African football fan on your gift list.

FIFA has released five DVDs narrating the story of African football as part of its Win in Africa with Africa program.

It's timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the African Football Confederation and sets the scene for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

According to a news release on the FIFA website, they're now offering a sneak preview of a fascinating archive of texts, photographs and videos to everyone.

The five DVDs comprise no fewer than 7,000 documents, 2,000 photos, hundreds of press cuttings, exclusive interviews and the best goals scored by African teams at the FIFA World Cup, all painstakingly compiled, categorised and edited in collaboration with Tunisian journalist Faouzi Mahjoub.

The first DVD, which features a presentation of the CAF's 53 member associations and the continental governing body itself, opens with a message from FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter in which he describes the hard work that has gone into "compiling African football archives from sources that are often dispersed, incomplete and forgotten."

"We would like to celebrate the memory of the figures who form part of this history and preserve it for fans who are too young to remember what were unforgettable times," added Blatter. "This tribute also gives us an opportunity to show our support for a continent with tremendous potential."

From Ben Barek to Weah
Titled Africa and the Tournaments, the second DVD looks back at the performances of African teams in the FIFA World Cup over the years and comprises some of the finest goals scored by the continent's teams in the showpiece event. It also features an overview of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations from 1957 and 2006 and the various African club competitions.

DVD number three is packed with profiles of the leading African players of all time in five different sections. The first part of this gallery is devoted to the legends of the African game from Larbi Ben Barek to George Weah. Next up are the heroes of yesteryear, from Abdelmajid Chetali to Wilberforce Mfum, followed by the stars of today such as Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Adebayor, who are bringing joy to fans of the modern game.

The final section looks at the African-born players who have made their name in the colours of the former colonial powers, among them Mario Coluna and Eusebio. The disc also comprises profiles of the CAF's most lethal strikers and a bonus feature on a visit made by Pele to Africa.

The last two DVDs in the set dig deep into the continent's football archives. Disc four showcases clippings on African football taken from the magazines France Football (1970-77) and Le miroir du football (1962-76 and 1996-97), while DVD number five lists every single international match contested by African countries, a huge database crammed into one small disc.

MY POV: Can someone PLEASE buy this for me?? My birthday is right around the corner, you know ... Ha!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

One Down, Nine to Go: First World Cup Stadium Done!


And then there were nine ...

Pretoria, South Africa's Loftus Versefeld Stadium is the first of 10 World Cup 2010 stadiums to be completed.

The stadium, named for the founder of organized sports in Pretoria Robert Owen Loftus Versefeld, will open for action when it hosts a South African Premier Soccer League match on Saturday.

Its capacity has been increased from 45,000 to 50,000 and a new roof has been fitted on one of its main stands.

The venue is also one of four to be used in June's Confederations Cup.

The other three grounds - in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Rustenburg - were due to be ready last year but are still weeks away from completion.

The six other 2010 World Cup venues are due to be completed by the end of this year.

Loftus Versfeld will host Saturday's match between Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows.

It is also the home ground of rugby union team Blue Bulls and will host one of the three tests matches between the touring British and Irish Lions and South Africa's Springboks on 27 June.

For more information on the ten venues, please click here.

MY POV: The stadiums are getting built. One down. More on the way ... great to hear this news out of South Africa today!

Who Will Host the 2018/2022 World Cups?


With FIFA having received a total of '11 formal expressions of interest' to bid for the 2018 and/or 2022 FIFA World Cups, Road to 2010 wonders: How do the candidates stack up?

England's fine newspaper the Guardian Unlimited does the work for us, with an interactive map digesting the pros and cons of all 11 bids for the '18/'22 Cups.

The 11 bids are from Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands, England, Indonesia, Japan, Korea Republic, Mexico, Qatar, Russia, Spain and Portugal, and the USA.

Here's a small dosage of the Guardian's analysis. For more, please click here and enjoy the full article.

Australia

Pros - Has a proven track record in hosting major tournaments, such as the 200 Olympics, the 2003 Rugby World Cup and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Bid will not want for money or influence thanks to their chief football powerbroker, billionaire property developer Frank Lowy. A perceived boost to the moderately successful A-League would also be a boon for FIFA.

Cons - The time difference with Europe, the largest and most lucrative television audience for football, is the biggest problem and that may be accentuated should UEFA and FIFA succeed in their legal bid to open the bidding to subscription channels. A lack of purpose-built football stadia is also a problem.

USA

Pros - The likely voting pact between England's bloc and CONCACAF (the Confederation of North, Central American and Carribbean Association Football) gives the United States a good chance of securing the 2022 Cup. Top class infrastructure, stadia and transport links also work in their favor, as does a perceived positive impact on the ailing MLS.

Cons - Hosted the finals as recently as 1994, a dull tournament remembered for draconian regulations imposed by TV companies ignorant of the tempo of football regarding the intake of fluids and the amount of time the ball spent in play. Brazil 2014 may work against another bid from the Americas.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Couch in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup?


Say you're broke (like myself) and need a place to stay in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup (also like myself). Whatever do you do?

According to a report in iAfrica.com, many backpackers and 'couchsurfers' are looking to the internet to help them combine a trip to Africa with the world's biggest football event by securing a local — and free — couch to crash on.

Count me in!!!

Anselmo Zacarias Portes, a 29-year-old marketing analyst from Sao Paulo, has already secured his couch for Africa's first World Cup with a couple from Cape Town he once hosted back in Brazil.

"I'm Brazilian and I love football but, despite this, football will not be my main attraction. Of course I want to feel the whole atmosphere of the Cup," he told AFP.

"I believe it will be an amazing experience. For us Brazilians, football is more than a sport. It's passion and love. I really would like to know how other people support their national teams"

Couchsurfers should take a bit of pressure off FIFA, which is looking to ensure 55,000 rooms are available every night during the event.

FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer told AFP some host cities lacked enough beds for football fans.

"We expect that the supply of accommodation will meet the demand. It is simply a question of the distance an individual fan may travel to a match and the diversity of accommodation facilities that will be used."

Some fans have found couchsurfing a winning formula for getting to know the intricacies of a city during a World Cup.

Another fan from Brazil, Pedro Ivo Dantes of Rio de Janeiro, couchsurfed his way through the previous World Cup in Germany.

Reminiscing about watching matches in small gardens of old buildings in the eastern part of the city, he recalls discovering things he would never have done on his own.

"These buildings were abandoned when the (Berlin) Wall fell, and now are occupied by students, artists, immigrants, etc, that pay nothing to live there. There is a strong sense of community, everything is old but people help each other, and they seem to live happily that way.

"I expect, if I'm lucky enough, that South African couchsurfers will help me by having this kind of experience there too."

The Couchsurfing Project was started by 30-year-old American Casey Fenton in 2004, and now has 900,000 members online, seeking to connect with locals while traveling, which may or may not include free accommodation.

"Couchsurfing isn't about the furniture — it's not just about finding free accommodations around the world — it's about participating in creating a better world," reads the website mission.

To find out more, visit www.couchsurfing.com.

MY POV: I may have just found my accommodation in South Africa thanks to this web site.

Excellent idea!


U.S. Makes Bid for 2018 or 2022 World Cup


We're years away the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, but what better time to start thinking of them than now?

The United States was among 12 candidates to submit bids to FIFA for the right to host the 2018 or the 2022 World Cup.

FIFA set a deadline of May 2010 for the bidders to provide paperwork in support of their bids. The winning countries will be named in December 2010 after surveys and inspections by FIFA’s executive committee. The 2010 World Cup will be in South Africa (we hope) followed by the 2014 gala in Brazil.

“I don’t think that there’s any doubt that what happened two weeks ago in Washington has dramatically changed the view of the United States around the world,” Sunil Gulati, the president of the United States Soccer Federation, said Monday, referring to the Barack Obama's inauguration as President of the U.S.

“The change has been noticeable, audible and visible. It’s a positive for Chicago’s bid for the Olympics and now for the World Cup.”

The United States hosted the 1994 World Cup for the first time, with a cumulative attendance of more than 3.5 million fans, a record at the time. It led to the establishment of a domestic league (Major League Soccer) and helped kick-start the sport’s growth in the United States, which had not been particularly receptive to the sport.

FIFA has also received bids from England, Russia, Qatar, Australia, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, Egypt and South Korea, and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Belgium/the Netherlands. It is widely believed that a European country, possibly England, which last hosted the tournament in 1966, has the inside track for 2018.

Gulati, speaking on a conference call, also announced the initial members of the United States organizing committee: Don Garber, the commissioner of Major League Soccer; David Downs, the former chief executive of Univision, the Spanish-language television channel; Dan Flynn, the United States federation’s chief executive; and Philip D. Murphy, the former national finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

“Soccer has grown tremendously, and I know we have the qualities to once again host the World Cup,” Downs, the committee’s chairman, said. “More than that, the United States was founded on diversity. The country has and will always open its arms to citizens of the world.”

MY POV: I've often stated I'd love to see the Cup come back here. Having said that, I'd love to travel to Australia or Egypt for the Cup. Let's see the Cup in the Middle East!