Joburg will get the lion’s share of next year’s Confederation Cup matches, with Coca-Cola (Ellis) Park set to host five, including the opening and final games.

And with Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria set to stage three matches, this means Gauteng will host half of the 16 matches that will be played during the tournament, scheduled between June 14 and 28.

But for Joburg, the city will first have to overcome numerous hurdles, including traffic congestion – a challenge former Wits University FC director Derek Blanckensee cannot afford to lose.

Blanckensee was among the Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup host venue managers announced by the Local Organising Committee (LOC) yesterday.

Of the venue managers appointed, Blanckensee will be under pressure to co-ordinate and monitor preparations at the three World Cup venues – Coca-Cola Park, Soccer City stadiums and the International Broadcasting Centre. Soccer City will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 World Cup.

The LOC venue managers will be responsible for the delivery of, among others, transport, safety and security, accommodation, ticketing and accreditation.

Danny Jordaan, CEO of the LOC, said the appointment of the host venue managers was part of their plans to intensify their preparations for both the Confederations Cup and the World Cup tournaments, especially as the world’s spotlight will be on South Africa after the Beijing Olympics.

Jordaan reiterated Fifa’s statements that the Confederations Cup will serve as a test for South Africa’s ability to stage a successful World Cup.

It was also announced that the LOC and Fifa had reached an agreement with the South African Rugby Football Union to take “exclusive” control of Coca-Cola Park, Loftus Versfeld and Free State stadiums, the three rugby venues, 15 days ahead of the start of the Confederations Cup.

Other than Coca-Cola Park, which will also host a semi-final match, Mangaung stadium in Bloemfontein will stage four matches, including a semi-final contest. Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg will host four matches, including a third place playoff.

The draw for the Confederations Cup will take place on November 22 and tickets will go on sale the following day.

The rest of the venue managers are Mandla “Shoes” Mazibuko (Loftus Versfeld), Teral Cullen (Greenpoint), Mbulaheni Nematandani (Polokwane/Peter Mokaba Sports Complex), Mpho Modisakeng (Rustenburg/Royal Bafokeng), Achileus Charalambous (Nelson Mandela Bay), Bongi Hlophe (eThekwini/Moses Mabhida stadium), Veli Mahlangu (Nelspruit/ Mbombela stadium), while that of Mangaung/ Free State stadium will be appointed soon.

PUBLICATION: The Star
AUTHOR: Lebogang Seale
DATED: 7th August 2008