With just two games remaining at the Confederations Cup, South African organizers are looking at the work still needing to be done to prepare the country for next year’s World Cup.

Fourteen of the 16 games have been played at the eight-team warmup for next year’s tournament, and organizers said Friday they were largely happy with how things had gone but would wait until after Sunday’s final and third-place playoff before making their report.

Then, it’s time to see what needs to be done to improve transport, stadiums and other infrastructure for the 32-nation World Cup.

“We must not celebrate too long,” 2010 World Cup organizing committee head Danny Jordaan said. “We must knuckle down and deliver the conditions for the World Cup, which is a huge competition.”

The Confederations Cup was always intended to help organizers highlight areas in need of improvement before the World Cup, and organizers said it had again been a worthwhile experience.

“We must look to the 2010 World Cup through the eyes of the Confederations Cup,” Jordaan said. “We must realize we are not hosting the Confederations Cup in this country again.”

Jordaan said the standard of the facilities will be better next year. The Confederations Cup featured only four venues, all of them shared with rugby.

“We have played in exiting stadiums and these are our worst stadiums,” Jordaan said of the venues in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Rustenburg. “Our best stadiums are still to come. The co-use of stadiums is not an issue.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter also highlighted the performance of the tournament’s less favored teams as one of the competition’s successes, with South Africa narrowly losing to Brazil in Thursday’s semifinal match and the United States reaching the final by beating Spain on Wednesday.

Blatter said he hoped nations such as the United States had an even greater chance of success at the World Cup, with a seeding system for the first-round draw making it almost impossible for the Americans to face such a tough group again.

The United States progressed to the semifinals by finishing second in a group also containing Brazil, World Cup holder Italy and African champion Egypt.

“There are no more dominant teams,” Blatter said. “In the World Cup, it will be easier because there are 32 teams and in the draw for the groups, teams are seeded. In the World Cup, such a group could not be possible.

“As FIFA president, I must be very happy to have an American final: north against south.”

Jordaan agreed that the United States’ success was good for football.

“The USA (team) is a revelation in terms of interest now in the U.S.,” Jordaan said.

Franz Beckenbauer, who has played for a World Cup-winning team, coached another and ran the last tournament in Germany three years ago, weighed in on the issue of the plastic vuvuzela trumpets, which some broadcasters have complained about because of the noise at matches in South Africa.

“It was loud, I have to say,” the German said. “But it didn’t really disturb me. … We better get used to it because it’s part of their culture.”

PUBLICATION: www.usatoday.com
AUTHOR: Stuart Condie, AP Sports Writer
DATED: 27th June 2009