The 2010 World Cup is just around the corner. And there is so much excitement all over the country.

Everyone is talking about the world’s greatest soccer showpiece. The South African soccer team has been getting so much attention. They are playing a series of friendly games to fine tune themselves ahead of the World Cup.

As hosts, it is in the best interest of everyone involved to see them doing well. It augurs well for the World Cup and keeps the hype going. A good example was South Korea when their national team went all the way to the semi-finals and nearly upstaged Italy.

South Africa did fairly well in the just-ended Confederations Cup. They were knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual winners Brazil. So there is hope that they will do well in the 2010 World Cup.

A few of their players attracted European teams. Striker Bernard Parker has been signed by FC Twente in Holland. The same club is interested in defender Tsepo Masilela but the defender is rumoured to be on his way to England. Kagiso Dikcacoi has left for Fulham in England. Mathew Booth is being sought after by a number of teams in England but the tall defender looks set to return to Russia. Teko Modise is in demand but it seems he is not in a hurry to go yet.

He is making enough money in SA where he is the darling of the fans, media and advertising agents. There was interest for Simpiwe Tshabalala from Arsenal, which has since died down.

Elrio Van Heerden signed with Blackburn Rovers, joining Benni McCarthy. Aaron Mokoena just left Rovers for Portsmouth. Bongani Khumalo left for Israel.

I am so envious to see all these Bafana players making the moves abroad while our top stars are flocking here to play in the lower leagues at times. The imbalance is so painful. But I am happy for the players involved.

Bafana Bafana are expected to get into camp sometime in January and head for Brazil for intensive training. The league season here is going to be the shortest in the history of South African football.

The season ends in February to ensure that Bafana Bafana players are not affected by club commitments once they get into camp early next year. It is also rumoured that they might once again enlist the services of their former coach Carlos Albreto Pareira. But this time only as a technical adviser, a move some quarters feel is just a waste of time and money.

The general consensus among the naysayers is that there is no need to have three Brazilians on the South African bench for the World Cup. Bafana Bafana are currently coached by another Brazilian, Joel Santana, who is assisted by Jairo Leal, a fellow Brazilian. Some feel Pareira betrayed them in the first place when he left at short notice.

Ironically Pareira was fired last week by Brazilian club Flumnense, who he left lying in the relegation zone third from the bottom in a league where four teams get the chop. We will just have to wait and see what happens.

Off the pitch a lot is also happening. Almost everyone is preparing for the World Cup. Most of the stadiums are almost completed.

Ellis Park or Coca Cola Park, the venue for one semi-final is already complete and in use. Loftus Stadium in Tshwane is almost complete. The venue for the final, Soccer City is still under construction. The parking area still has a long way to go. But the stadium itself looks awesome. I have never seen a more beautiful stadium.

The stadium in Port Elizabeth was finished. So was the Royal Bafokeng in the North-West Province. Kings Park Stadium in Durban is nearing completion. In Cape Town, Greenpoint Stadium and Newlands stadiums are almost complete. The only sore point is the Mbombela Stadium. It might not be completed on schedule due to the continuous strike action there.

Something very interesting is going to happen in the Mpumalanga province, the mayor has introduced what he dubbed “World Cup 2010 Friday”. Every Friday every person in the province is supposed to dress in some World Cup colours, be it colours of the South African flag, colours of teams most likely to feature in the World Cup or colours of Bafana Bafana.

Facial as well as house paintings are among a lot of available options devised to get every member of the community into the World Cup spirit. This will be ongoing till the World Cup to make sure that everyone in the province is aware of it. I saw it as just a brilliant Idea. I am enjoying the excitement.

There will be gains for everybody during the World Cup. A lot of Jobs have been created in the construction industry. So has been catering jobs. People with big houses will also benefit if they are prepared to rent their houses. The owner should use one bedroom and be forever present to cater and take care of the visitors for the duration of the World Cup. The price being charged for one person is even higher than those for a hotel.

If one owns a car he/she could actually lease it for the duration of the competition. So having a car and a house can easily net somebody a big purse. It is really cool to see how almost everyone will be benefitting. The country has really developed. Roads in Johannesburg are being widened.

Honestly, I still even can’t believe that the World Cup semi-final will be played just a 10-minute drive from my house. And the Big Final will be just about 25 minutes from my house. It is just unbelievable. In my wildest dream did I ever think that the World Cup would be this close to me?

Then there is also trouble with taxi owners who are challenging the introduction of buses to some routes. They claim this would take them out of business. While this may be true to some extend, from a passenger’s point of view, the introduction of a bus system is the best thing to ever happen transport wise in South Africa.

At least one would know that should you not wish to drive your car to work, you will have a bus that will take you to town in time for work. Not the taxis that don’t move on a time table and will never leave a rank till they are full. There is still trouble about that and I hear the matter might even go to court. Violence is not ruled out. But the government is adamant that the bus system will be introduced, in line with the transport system in the First World.

After the Confederations Cup, The Local Organising Committee for the World Cup is so confident that they will have a very successful World Cup. The qualifying teams will be treated like kings here. We are in for an exciting 2010 . . . I will keep you guys updated.

The writer is a former Warriors player. He also played for CAPS United, Darryn T, Mamelodi Sundowns, Wits University and Jomo Cosmos.

PUBLICATION: The Sunday Mail Online
AUTHOR: Alois Bunjira
DATED: 26th July 2009