The Confederations Cup draw in Sandton on Saturday will not only bring some of the world’s finest football coaches to SA — Brazil’s Dunga and Italy’s Marcello Lippi, for instance — but a host of interesting post- draw challenges.

Some of these are obvious and have a public profile, such as the fact that the tournament acts as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup proper. Others are less commented on and, frankly, more subtle, like the fact that the tournament is a challenge to football-loving South Africans to show Fifa, in particular, and the rest of the world in general that they are worldly in their love of the beautiful game; that they are, in other words, prepared to fork out R70 to watch New Zealand play Iraq or Spain play Egypt, as well as salivating at the prospect of seeing a glamour semifinal between Italy and Brazil.

“This tournament is a unique opportunity for South Africans because they’re probably going to scramble to see Spain versus Italy or Italy versus Brazil in a World Cup context,” the LOC’s Danny Jordaan told me on Friday. “With the ticketing structure like it is, they have a reasonable chance to see these teams in the Confed Cup.

“More than that, I think our soccer-loving public need to prove to the world that we are ready to appreciate these teams. The international community sees South Africa as a cricket and rugby country. If we fail to take an interest in the Confed Cup — and we don’t take advantage of the tournament — there is a chance that the ticket allocation to locals for the World Cup will get thinned out.”

One if the principles behind the Confed Cup, to be played at venues in Johannesburg (Ellis Park), Pretoria (Loftus Versfeld), Rustenburg (Royal Bafokeng) and Bloemfontein (Free State Stadium) from June 14-28, is that fans in the host cities and their immediate surroundings will be able to see most of the eight participating teams.

Italy, who qualify for the tournament by virtue of being 2006 World Cup winners and therefore world champions, will not only play at Ellis Park but, in all likelihood, in Pretoria and Bloemfontein. The same holds for the other participating teams — Spain, Brazil, the US, Iraq, Egypt and New Zealand — all continental champions in their own right, with South Africa making up the numbers as 2010 World Cup hosts.

As far as I can tell, Saturday’s draw will be based on the principle that not all the seeds, Spain, Italy, Brazil and South Africa, will be in the same group. The same applies to teams from the same continent — Spain and Italy, Egypt and South Africa — who will be kept apart.

South Africans will be able to purchase category four tickets for all matches, including the first round, the semifinals, the third- place playoff and the final. Tickets for the first round and third-place playoff will cost about R70 and those for the semifinal R140. Tickets for the final will be about R210.

I would assume — I haven’t had this confirmed — that precious few tickets in the category-four band will be available to locals for the semis and the final, so it might be an idea for locals to buy more expensive tickets in categories one to three for such matches. Prices here will range between R350-R840, depending on which category you buy your semifinal ticket in, to between R420 and R1400 a ticket for the final.

Which matches fall into which category will become clearer after Saturday’s draw, with tickets going on sale on November 23 at all First National Bank branches.

On payment for a ticket or group of tickets, fans will receive a voucher, which they take to the ground where the match is being played on match day to exchange for their tickets. Fans who hold a Visa credit card will be able reserve and buy tickets on Fifa.com.

PUBLICATION: The Times
AUTHOR: Luke Alfred
DATED: 16th November 2008