South African President Jacob Zuma said Tuesday that his country was ready to make history by hosting the Confederations Cup, and next year the World Cup, in Africa for the first time.
Zuma spoke as he received the trophy for the Confed Cup, which kicks off Sunday and runs through June 28, from the secretary general of the world football governing body, Jerome Valcke.
“This is one of the most important indications that 2010 is here, the cup is here,” he said to cheers in the brief ceremony at parliament.
He also cheered South Africa’s national team Bafana Bafana, saying he was confident they would win and keep the cup in the country.
“I’m convinced that for the first time in the history of this continent, we are ready to make history, that it remains here,” he said. “All of us are behind them, supporting them to do very well and make us proud.”
In a relaxed mood after giving a speech to parliament, Zuma played with a football donated by Valcke as cameras flashed.
The competition brings together world champs Italy and European champions Spain, Confed Cup titleholders Brazil, as well as Egypt, Iraq, New Zealand, the United States and hosts South Africa.
The event is seen as a curtainraiser for the World Cup, and as the most important test of South Africa’s preparations for the biggest sporting event on the planet.
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