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Last Updated: Friday, 22 December 2006, 12:47 GMT
Mbeki defends 2010 preparations
South Africa President Thabo Mbeki
Mbeki says work is already underway in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Nelspruit

South Africa is further down the road in its preparations for the 2010 World Cup than any other previous host nation, says President Thabo Mbeki.

In his weekly newsletter to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Friday, Mbeki knocked back any suggestion the tournament would be held elsewhere and rejected fears that stadia would not completed on time.

"The truth is that with regard to 2010, we have beaten all previous records with regard to the preparations for the successful hosting of the World Cup, including the benchmarks set by the highly successful 2006 World Cup in Germany," said Mbeki.

"I am happy to report that the joint efforts of Fifa, the Local Organising Committee and the South African government, have established solid foundations for what will be an exceptional event."

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has previously expressed misgivings about the lack of construction and renovation work on the 10 venues for the tournament.

But Mbeki said building work at the stadium in Johannesburg, which will host the final, would start early next year, and earth-moving and piling operations were already underway in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Nelspruit.

Mbeki also rubbished the notion "that some countries were already standing by to take over this responsibility from us, since it was certain that we would definitely fail to do the things Fifa required of us".

Football Federation Australia issued a statement earlier this month to dampen down speculation that it would offer itself as an alternative venue after its chief executive John O'Neill had said there were "all sorts of question marks" about South Africa's ability to stage the tournament.

"Most fortunately, consistently, .... Sepp Blatter, insisted correctly that our country was perfectly capable of hosting the World Cup, and would indeed do so," said Mbeki.

SEE ALSO
Mbeki rejects 2010 finance fears
09 Jul 06 |  African
Mbeki makes World Cup pledge
07 Jul 06 |  African


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