Mokoena: South Africa must shine at World Cup

The success of the World Cup in South Africa next year will depend on a strong performance by the hosts on the pitch as well as the country's ability to stage a distinctive tournament, captain Aaron Mokoena said on Tuesday.

"The world should see that South Africa is a beautiful country but also that we have a strong team," Mokoena told Reuters in an interview at the launch of the FIFA-backed 1GOAL campaign, promoting an education for every child.

"As we are the hosts it's very, very important that we do well on the pitch. It wouldn't make sense to host the World Cup and to have a struggling team.

"For us it's very, very important that we build a team that can make it difficult for other teams and be able to progress as far as possible.

"And it is possible, really really possible, that with the talent (we have) in South Africa we'll be able to go through and have a good World Cup."

South Africa are ranked 73rd in the world but a decent showing at this year's Confederations Cup, when they lost 1-0 to Brazil in the semi-finals, has given them fresh hope.

 

POSITIVE VIBES

"There are a lot of positive vibes in Africa, especially after the Confederations Cup," Mokoena said.

"We'd been written off even before we kicked a ball but as hosts we went out there and gave it (our) all. I'm sure we can take that to the World Cup and do the same."

Mokoena said Ghana, the first country to book their place from the African qualifiers, and Ivory Coast, who need just a point to guarantee a ticket to the finals, also had chances to keep the World Cup in Africa by winning the tournament.

"Ghana are a fantastic team with fantastic players," Mokoena said. "Most of the players have international experience and without that it's always difficult.

"Ivory Coast also have fantastic players and, while there's a long way to go, hopefully we'll get Nigeria and the other African giants to be part of the World Cup."

He added: "It's going to be the first World Cup in Africa and who knows how long it will take to have another one?

"It's going to be a World Cup with an African vibe and very different to every one we've had. For me, as a South African and as captain, it means a lot and I hope the Cup will remain in Africa."

The FIFA-backed 1GOAL campaign is using the 2010 World Cup to focus efforts on getting school places for 75 million children globally who are denied an education.


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