24 November 2008
Flanked by the Miss World contestants from the eight competing countries, Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke announced the draw for the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup – the World Cup dress rehearsal known as the “Festival of Champions” – at a slick, colourful event in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The eight teams competing in the 2009 tournament are 2006 World Cup winners Italy, 2010 World Cup host South Africa, and continental champions the United States of America, Spain, Brazil, New Zealand, Egypt and Iraq.
The draw saw the eight countries divided into two groups, as follows:
- South Africa
- New Zealand
Addressing a packed Sandton Convention Centre, 2010 Local Organising Committee (LOC) chairman Irvin Khoza assured Fifa that South Africa would not let them down in 2009 and 2010.
“Africa was always known as a dark continent, but not today and not tonight,” Khoza said.
Commenting after the draw, LOC chief executive officer Danny Jordaan told journalists: “It was slick, professional and highly insightful of our rich South African culture.
“What we saw tonight shows that our organisational capabilities are comparable to anything, and is proof that there is no contradiction between African and world-class,” Jordaan said.
Commenting on South Africa’s group, which will see the host nation take on Spain, Iraq and New Zealand in the group stage – escaping the likes of Italy and Brazil – the CEO said that South Africa had a good chance to get through to the semi-finals of the tournament.
“[However], we should not underestimate Iraq and New Zealand, who are both competitive teams that have fought hard to be here,” Jordaan said.
The tournament, taking place from 14 to 28 June 2009, will be played in four venues: Loftus Verfeld in Pretoria, Ellis Park in Johannesburg, Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, and the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.