Another step has been taken by the Organising Committee en route to the 2010 finals...The first hosts and winners of the World Cup, Uruguay, became the last of the 32 countries to qualify for next year's edition of the competition – completing one of the strongest line-ups in the tournament’s history.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa (OC) wasted no time in welcoming the countries to Africa’s first World Cup by hosting a symbolic flag-raising ceremony at the headquarters of the South African FA. Flags of all 32 participating teams were raised in celebration and to mark a major moment in African sporting history.
The Ambassadors and embassy representatives of the 32 countries raised their flags outside SAFA House, meters from the Soccer City Stadium at which the tournament’s opening match and final will be played next year.
“We congratulate all the teams that have now qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup," Dr. Danny Jordaan, the CEO of the OC, explained at the press conference. "For us this is a very emotional day. After all the years of hard work that have gone into preparing for this momentous event, it is now a tangible reality. The finalisation of the 32 participating countries is a major milestone and we would like to warmly welcome all of them to Africa’s first World Cup.
"Our country and our continent cannot wait to receive the players and their multitudes of fans who will descend on South Africa next year for what is sure to be an unforgettable event.”
Dr. Jordaan was ecstatic at the calibre of teams who have qualified for South Africa 2010, which is set to showcase the world’s best footballers in state of the art, modern stadiums.
“All the major countries in world football have qualified for the tournament, as well as a number of countries that are very capable of causing major upsets," he mused. "We’re particularly delighted that the giants of African football - Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Algeria - join hosts South Africa in what is a formidable line-up of African participants.
"Now it is no longer a case of asking whether the stadiums will be ready. They are, and they will be beautiful cathedrals which will host the best footballers in the world. Now, it is about preparing to celebrate the coming together of six continents, 32 teams and billions of people around the world in a celebration of football in South Africa next year. Today marks the day where we begin that celebration,” Jordaan added.
The final six places for the 2010 spectacular were decided last night in matches in Europe, Africa and South America. The final line-up of the countries who have qualified for the 2010 World Cup is: Nigeria, Cameroon, New Zealand, Japan, Netherlands, Korea Republic, Korea DPR, Australia, USA, Brazil, Ghana, England, Paraguay, Spain, Denmark, Cote d’Ivoire, Chile, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Serbia, Switzerland, Argentina, Honduras, Slovakia, Algeria, Portugal, France, Slovenia, Greece, Uruguay and hosts South Africa.
Once the ceremony was complete, the head of the OC spoke to a group of media representatives, including Goal.com. Jordaan was asked about the next step in the process, the final draw, which is to be held in Cape Town in a fortnight.
“December 4, the final draw is going to be a spectacular show," he smiled. "I think that it’s going to be the best final draw show in the history of FIFA, and I think you can come back to me afterwards.
“It is going to be a spectacular show, but also demonstrating the African spirit and the celebration that this game brings."
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com