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Posts Tagged ‘delight’

World Cup delight as family says Mandela to attend opener

In Uncategorized on June 9, 2010 at 1:55 pm

 Nelson Mandela gave the World Cup the ultimate pre-tournament boost Tuesday as his family declared the 91-year-old anti-apartheid icon would be among the crowds when the event kicks off.

As the country put the finishing touches to preparations, rolling out the continent’s first high-speed rail link and unveiling plans to bus fans from stadium to stadium, the announcement about Mandela removed one of the biggest worries for organisers who are desperate for him to attend.

Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, who acts as the family’s spokesman, had previously said that his grandfather was too frail to make such an appearance.

But he told AFP that he would in fact attend the opener on Friday at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium, albeit only briefly.

“He will come and greet the fans… before he retires to his home,” said Zwelivelile Mandela.

This photo provided by the Government Information and Communication Systems (GCIS), shows former South African president Nelson Mandela in February at Genadendal in Cape Town

“We’re trying to see how long he will stay at the stadium. At least 10 to 15 minutes.”

Sello Hating, a spokesman of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, confirmed that “Mr Mandela has expressed an interest to attend the game” although he said that he would only make a final decision on the day.

Danny Jordaan, the chief executive of the local organising committee, said it would be the icing on the cake if Mandela did turn up.

“It will be just wonderful if he can make it,” he told SABC television. “We will keep our fingers crossed for that.”

Mandela’s lobbying was seen as the deciding factor six years ago when FIFA handed South Africa the right to stage the tournament for the first time on African soil.

Since then, it has faced almost endless accusations that it is no place to host the world’s biggest sporting event because it is either too crime-ridden or lacking in infrastructure.

It went at least some way towards silencing that criticism on Tuesday by opening the Gautrain, a three-billion-dollar rail link which can whisk passengers from Johannesburg’s main airport into the uptown Sandton district.

The 160-kilometre-an-hour (100 mph) link will be one of the key legacies of the tournament and is intended to show that Africa can build transport facilities to rival those of anywhere in the world.

“I have been in Johannesburg just for one hour — the airport and here — but I really thought this was a first world service,” Costa Rican football journalist Gustavo Jimenez told AFP as he stepped off the train at Sandton.

Security guards outnumbered passengers on the first day, reflecting the desire by authorities to deflect fears that a country with one of the world’s highest crime rates is no place to stage the world’s biggest sporting event.

Tickets from the airport to Sandton cost around 13 dollars, a small fortune for most South Africans but much cheaper than the cost of a taxi ride.

And while traffic snarl-ups mean the journey usually takes around an hour, the Gautrain will cover the distance in around a quarter of that time.

Strikes and subsidence problems have ensured that only the link to Sandton, a swanky suburb home to the Johannesburg stock exchange and a massive shopping mall, has opened in time for the World Cup.

Janet Gallagher, who lives near the airport but often travels to Sandton, was one of the first passengers.

“In the morning at rush hour, it can take up to two hours. You can’t compare … It was so fast,” she told AFP.

As well as the Gautrain opening, a new train station opened in Cape Town and the government announced plans for a special bus service to ferry spectators between host cities, dropping them off close to the stadium before every match.

With the kick-off only three days away, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the fact that Africa was finally hosting the event was “a triumph for humanity”.

“This is the pride of Africa, a beacon for people around the world, especially developing countries. This is the moment of dreams coming true,” he told journalists before attending a charity gala dinner.

But the preparations were not entirely problem-free, with cell phone users finding it next to impossible to get a connection.

Source: SGGP

Van Gaal’s delight as Bayern keep dream alive

In Vietnam Sports on November 27, 2009 at 2:23 am

MUNICH, Nov 26, 2009 (AFP) – Under-fire Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal admitted he was a relieved man after the German giants kept their Champions League dream alive with a crucial 1-0 win over Maccabi Haifa.

Croatia striker Ivica Olic’s second-half strike breathed life into Bayern’s fading dream of reaching the knock-out phase alive at Munich’s Allianz Arena on Wednesday night.

Bayern Munich’s defender Daniel van Buyten (L) vies for the ball with Maccabi Haifa’s striker Vladimer Dvalishvili in Munich on November 25, 2009. AFP PHOTO

After group leaders Bordeaux enjoyed a 2-0 win over Juventus, Bayern are now just one point behind the Italians in Group A and must win their final game at Turin’s Stadio Olimpico on December 8 if they are to progress.

Having drawn their last three league games, this victory was badly needed by van Gaal, who has been told he must win his four remaining Bundesliga games before Christmas to be sure of keeping his job.

“Of course, we are all very relieved to get the win,” said van Gaal.

“The team played well and we are pleased to have got our destiny back into our own hands.”

Van Gaal suspended Bayern’s want-away striker Luca Toni on the eve of the game after the World Cup winner told the Italian media the pair’s relationship has completely broken down.

Bayern later fined Toni 25,000 euros (38,000 US dollars) for his comments, but goalscorer Olic insisted the squad are behind their coach.

“We are 100 percent behind the coach, everything he does is good and I hope we win everything up until the winter break,” said the Croatia star, who was making only his second appearance after injury.

“I think it was very important that we won and put this dark period behind us.

“I had a bad injury and it was a long break and it was pleasing to get the winning goal.

“I owe a lot to (Munich’s team doctor) Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt. The coach wanted to take me off at the half-time break, but I said I felt good and I told him I wanted to score a goal.”

Glum-faced Toni spent the game in the stands next to French midfielder Franck Ribery while Bayern’s fellow walking-wounded Arjen Robben and Miroslav Klose looked on.

But with Germany’s rising stars Thomas Mueller and Mario Gomez causing the Israeli team constant problems, in the end Bayern’s superior fitness made the difference.

Bayern took the lead in the 62nd minute when captain Mark van Bommel found Gomez in the penalty area and he fired his shot to the left of Haifa goalkeeper Nir Davidovitch.

The Israel national goalkeeper made the save, but the rebound fell into the path of Olic, who slotted home to keep the dream alive.

“We are of course very pleased to be back in business and everything is back in our own hands,” said 20-year-old Mueller.

“We needed a lot of passion and fire, it was noticeable that everyone is concentrating hard.”

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Russia fail, Slovenia delight in World Cup qualification

In Vietnam Sports on November 20, 2009 at 8:32 am

LJUBLJANA, Nov 19, 2009 (AFP) – Minnows Slovenia will leave for the World Cup in South Africa with clean boots after Prime Minister Borut Pahor was forced to eat his words and get polishing following his country’s play-off victory over Russia.

The Slovenians pulled off a 1-0 win over Russia on Wednesday and qualified on the away goals rule after the aggregate score of 2-2, playing an attacking gameplan that had commentators purring.

Slovenia’s team celebrate after their World Cup 2010 qualifying play-off second leg football match between Slovenia and Russia, in Maribor (AFP photo)

“Irrespective of the shortfall in youth and experience the Slovenian national football team very quickly understood the legality of modern football at the highest level, and played aggressive soccer, which attracts viewers,” said Slovenian daily newspaper Dnevnik.

“This is no longer a defensive posture waiting for the counterattack.”

The newspaper’s front page headlined with “To Africa with clean shoes”, in reference to Prime Minister Pahor’s promise to the team that he would polish their boots if they won.

Pahor dutifully carried out his task immediately after the game, the paper reported.

“Superb performance in (the Maribor stadium of) Ljudski vrt. South Africa, here we come,” said Slovenian daily Delo.

Former international Branko Oblak, writing in Delo, said Russian coach Gus Hiddink had made the mistake of continuing to pick the wrong players, such as Arsenal’s Andrei Arshavin.

“The Russians did not attack us at all. They sought to play with technique which they do not have.”

Slovenia’s sole sports daily Ekipa predicted that “next summer would be a Slovenian summer”.

“Watch out Brazil, Spain and Argentina. South Africa, prepare, Slovenia is coming.”

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share