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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 May, 2004, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
SA World Cup delight
The SA delegation in Zurich included President Mbeki (second from left), Mandela and apartheid president FW de Klerk
Nelson Mandela was the political heavyweight in SA's delegation
South Africa exploded in joyous celebrations on Saturday upon the news that it will become the first African country to host the World Cup finals in 2010.

It will be the biggest international event ever organised in South Africa and a multi-billion dollar injection into its economy.

President Thabo Mbeki, who returned home after presenting the South African bid to the Fifa Executive Committee in Zurich, dropped his normal reserve and danced in jubilation with crowds gathered in the capital Pretoria.

All around South Africa, a deafening roar of joy erupted as news was broadcast live on big screens.

You can't keep a good country down
Chez Milani
SA Federation of Unions
Champagne corks popped at football stadiums, public squares and community centres throughout the country as black and white united in celebration.

"You can't keep a good country down," said an ecstatic Chez Milani, general secretary of the Federation of Unions of South Africa.

"What better news could our industry have asked for to cement the successes we have achieved and are indeed celebrating during this historic year as we celebrate 10 Years of Freedom?" said South African Tourism chief executive officer, Cheryl Carolus.

Waving the multi-coloured South African flags, clapping and singing, South Africans were immediately swept up in euphoria at events organised in downtown Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban.

This is the best day of my life
Phindile Nxumala
South African in Soweto
In the black township of Soweto, Tebogo Sihlandu wore a South African football jersey and was wrapped in a South African flag as he watched the announcement from a big screen set up in a local stadium.

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, who watched the announcement with fans in Cape Town, said he was overjoyed.

"I'm wondering who's going to pay for all this?" he joked. He then spontaneously got the crowd to say 'we will do it together.'

"This is the best feeling in the world. I've been so nervous before but now I can relax - the World Cup is in the bag," said Sihlandu.

"This is the best day of my life," said Phindile Nxumala, also from Soweto.

"We can only thank Nelson Mandela for making this possible for us."

Although frail at 85, Mandela travelled to Zurich to make the final pitch for South Africa to win the right to host the 2010 tournament.

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