Fifa president Sepp Blatter dreams of seeing an African team in “at least” the semi-final of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
Just like Martin Luther King jnr, Blatter, on a whirlwind four-day tour of South Africa’s progress for the 2010 World Cup, told reporters of his dream. “It is my great hope that in 2010 an African nation will at least reach the semi-finals for the first time in the history of the competition.”
He was visiting Soccer City in Johannesburg on Tuesday when he said it would be “the cherry on top of the cake for what I hope and pray will be a highly successful initial World Cup in South Africa.”
He said it would signify that Africa had arrived as a “genuine power” in world football. The teams which appear best-equipped to bring Blatter’s dream to reality are Cameroon, Africa’s highest-ranked nation at 14, followed by Ghana at 20, Egypt 21, Ivory Coast 23 and Nigeria 27.
However, the Fifa president’s dream could become a nightmare following South Africa’s dismal results, which have plummeted it to 70 in the Fifa rankings, and a mediocre 16 place in the African rankings. The host nation has not even qualified for the African Nations Cup Finals in Angola.
Blatter pointed out that South Africa was not only the worst-ranked nation to host a World Cup, but might not reach the second round of the competition.
Sustained interest in the tournament and its success is generally considered to depend on the host giving a credible performance. “I am disappointed that during the years since 2004 when this World Cup was given to South Africa the national team is no better,” he said. It was “incredible” that Bafana Bafana had gone from winning the African Nations Cup in 1996 to failing to qualify for the tournament in 2010.
“I cannot understand it. It is the last moment now to move, to do something, to move it,” said Blatter. And “move it” South Africa and controlling body Safa and the local World Cup Organising Committee surely must if Blatter’s “dream” is not to turn into that back-firing nightmare.