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FIFA World Cup 2010, Press Review

07. December 2009

World Cup party starts in Cape Town

Thousands of fans partied into the night on the streets of Cape Town on Friday to celebrate the World Cup draw despite hosts South Africa being thrown into one of the tournament's tricky groups.

South Africa, given a seeded rating as hosts despite lacklustre recent performances, were drawn to face Mexico in the opening match on June 11 next year and must also play two former World Cup winners, Uruguay and France, in Group A.

Many South Africans resigned themselves to an early exit but that did not seem to dampen the atmosphere at Cape Town's main party venue, the city's trendy Long Street.

Photo: 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa
The Cape Town Fan Fest kicks off the party
Local and foreign fans, many with flags of their favourite teams painted on their faces, thronged the bars and restaurants.

"South Africans are positive. We believe," said Vuyani Kwinana, who carried a large national flag.

"Africa is going to conquer and take this World Cup. We will beat Mexico in the first match," Kwinana added.

Fans, some of whom had been partying since early afternoon, sat exhausted along the pavements as the blare of vuvuzelas pierced the night air.

Global spectacular
The draw for the 32-nation tournament was made at the end of a 90-minute global television spectacular, featuring African music and dancing, broadcast to more than 250 million people around the world.

The draw was conducted by Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke with South African actress Charlize Theron and the ceremony included a televised address to the world from former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Mandela, now a frail 91-year-old, sent a video message from his home in Johannesburg.

"We feel privileged and humbled that South Africa has been given the singular honour" of holding Africa's first World Cup, he said.

"We must strive for excellence... to ensure the event leaves a lasting legacy for all our people," added Mandela, who became South Africa's first post-apartheid president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail.

The country's current president Jacob Zuma appeared on stage to make the bold prediction that the trophy would stay in Africa after the continent staged the tournament for the first time.

No African team has reached the semi-finals before though Africa's first World Cup features six African countries for the first time and there are more Africans than ever playing with the world's best club sides.

International soccer greats, including England's David Beckham and former players Eusebio of Portugal, Roger Milla of Cameroon, Germany's Franz Beckenbauer and France's Michel Platini, who is the UEFA president, were also present.

Final countdown
A huge television screen was set up to show the draw to the excited crowds on Long Street.

The ceremony ended the suspense over who the 32 qualifying teams would play and where. It began the final countdown to next year's World Cup, the first to be held in Africa.

"This is the first time I've been to South Africa and I'm finding it very cool," said Thomas Beltlwieser, a 31-year-old from Munich.

"We are already having a great time and meeting people from around the world. The locals are friendly and we feel safe but we have to be safety conscious."

Reuters

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