22 June 2009
US President Barack Obama could be among the VIP spectators at Soccer City stadium, Johannesburg when the first soccer World Cup to take place on African soil kicks off on 11 June 2010.
And the way Obama’s team are playing in the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup currently taking place in South Africa, he has more than one reason for wanting a closer look at the world’s biggest single-code sporting event.
News agency Reuters reported on Monday that Fifa president Sepp Blatter had invited Obama to attend the World Cup opening ceremony in 2010. Blatter told a press conference in Johannesburg that Obama had accepted the invitation, saying he would come if he could.
“Of course the schedule of heads of state can change, but [Obama] has said he will be there if he can,” Reuters quoted Blatter as saying.
This follows the United States’ shock 3-0 drubbing of Egypt in their final group match of the Confederations Cup in Rustenburg on Sunday, enabling them to squeeze through to the semifinals of the tournament ahead of both the African champions and reigning world champions Italy.
Things couldn’t have been tighter in a group that included multiple World Cup winners Brazil. The USA, Italy and Egypt all ended equal on points – making Clint Dempsey’s third goal on Sunday the crucial decider that sent Bob Bradley’s team through to the final four of the World Cup warmup tournament.
“People had written us off, they didn’t believe in us,” Dempsey told Fifa.com after the match. “That’s the way football is, though. Things can change completely in the blink of an eye or with the kick of a ball.”
Midfielder Michael Bradley, who gave coach Bob the perfect Father’s Day gift by scoring the second goal, was shaking with emotion after the final whistle.
“These are the kinds of nights you remember when your career’s over,” he told Fifa.com. “We keep going at the other guy, we keep grinding it out, keep fighting and never giving up. We believe in what we’re doing, and all of us left everything he had out there on the field.”
The USA will meet Spain, winners of the other group and the current top-ranked team in the world, in the first semifinal on Wednesday night, while hosts South Africa will take on Brazil in the second semifinal on Thursday.
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