Johannesburg - Rugby and the Super 14 champions the Blue Bulls have acted as an unexpected catalyst in uniting South Africans behind Bafana Bafana and the World Cup finals.


That was the view of 2010 Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan in an interview on Wednesday night after a gala banquet held at the Sandton Convention Centre in support of Bafana who play Mexico in the opening Group A match at the new Soccer City next Friday. Kick-off is at 16:00.


Said an elated Jordaan: "We have shown ourselves to be a truly Rainbow Nation. I could not believe the incredible success of the Blue Bulls playing their Super 14 semi-final (against the New Zealand Crusaders) and the final against the Stormers at Orlando Stadium during the last two weekends.


"Soweto came to the party to support rugby and the Blue Bulls.


"Rugby was once the sport of the White elite and now the Black people of Soweto have adopted both rugby and the Bulls.


"It was a fantastic development that has helped further unite South Africa during the build up the World Cup finals. It was a visionary move by the Bulls management, and the spin-offs not just for rugby but for the whole country are there for everyone to see."

Jordaan also praised Bafana's Brazilian head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira for an outstanding job.

"Before he took charge (last November) Bafana had lost seven successive matches and scored no goals. Since Parreira rejoined us we are unbeaten in 11 games and they have scored 14 goals in their last five matches.


"Now we look forward to the World Cup and our first match against Mexico with high expectations and hope we will not just hold our own, but reach the second round for the first time."


Jordaan said Parreira have turned the corner with Bafana in seven tough months. "He has given the players back their self belief and moulded them into a formidable unit that is full of commitment and fighting spirit.


"We now have a team to be proud of. I am looking forward to the World Cup with hope and great excitement. We as officials have done our bit to get the greatest sporting event in the world to South Africa, and now it is up to the players to do their talking on the field.


"There is such an euphoria around Bafana that hopefully will propel them to get as far as possible in the tournament."


FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was the guest of honour at the banquet, said former president Nelson Mandela was the man who won the 2010 World Cup final for South Africa.


Said Blatter: "It was not FIFA who decided to give the 2010 World Cup to South Africa. Nelson Mandela, the world's great humanist and charismatic leader, was the person who got the World Cup for South Africa."


Blatter added Madiba would be at the opening match to cheer on Bafana. Said Blatter: "It is fantastic that Madiba will be there at Soccer City in person to witness what he set out to achieve."


"I should be neutral but I will not be neutral when Bafana play Mexico."




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