Australia, Brazil arrive in South Africa

27 May 2010

Five times World Cup champions Brazil landed at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday morning, the second team to arrive in South Africa for the 2010 Fifa World Cup following the Australian team, who touched down at the airport on Wednesday evening.

“With the arrival of teams, the Fifa World Cup becomes real,” Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke said in a statement on Wednesday. “This marks a very special moment, because we have provided the stage, now the players take the spotlight, and that is what the Fifa World Cup is about.”

World Cup No. 19 for the Samba Boys

The Brazilian team, top striker Kaka among them, was welcomed by 2010 Local Organising Committee chairman Irvin Khoza.

The Brazilians, who will be staying at Fairway Hotel and Spa in Randburg, Johannesburg, kick off their World Cup campaign against Korea DPR at Ellis Park stadium – one of two Johannesburg venues for the tournament – on 15 June.

They will then play Cote d’Ivoire at Soccer City stadium on 20 June before travelling to Durban for their final group match against Portugal on 25 June.

While Italy are the defending champions, Brazil go into the tournament heavily favoured. The Samba Boys, also winners of last year’s Confederations Cup, are contesting their 19th consecutive Fifa World Cup final. They are the only country to have taken part in every edition of the global showpiece.

They have won the title five times, amassing a total of 64 victories, 14 draws and 14 defeats in 92 World Cup games.

Australia the first to arrive

The Australians will play their first group D match against 2006 World Cup host Germany at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on 13 June.

Placed 20th in Fifa’s world rankings, Australia have appeared on the world stage just twice before, but are now making up for lost time by claiming a second consecutive qualification.

Following a breakthrough showing in 1974, where a team of amateur players were far from embarrassed despite a first-round exit, the sports-mad nation had to wait another 32 years for a return to the Fifa World Cup.

Australia went on to make a strong statement in Germany 2006, reaching the knockout stage, where it took a last-minute goal from eventual champions Italy to eliminate Guus Hiddink’s team.

The squad, now under another Dutchman, Pim Verbeek, features many of the Germany 2006 personnel, and is a battle-hardened and experienced group.

Speaking to on Wednesday, Verbeek said the most important thing for his team was to win its first game.

“We have given ourselves plenty of time to prepare and acclimatise to the local conditions,” Verbeek said. “The players will have to get used to the altitude, and the few warm-up matches will help us a lot in achieving this.

Australia will be temporarily based at the Da Vinci Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg.