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Some Thoughts on the 2010 World Cup
The 2010 World Cup will be the first staged by a nation from the Confederation of African Football, as it will be held in South Africa. The competition will take place between the 11 June and the 11 July in a number of different venues across South Africa, including two stadiums in capital Johannesburg and also in Durban, Cape Town, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Nelspruit, Polekwane and Rustenburg.
An essential feature of any World Cup is of course, the mascot, and South Africa`s emblematic lucky charm is Zakumi. A rather manga-esque biped leapard with green hair, his name comes from ZA, the international abbreviation for South Africa, and "Kumi", a word meaning ten in many African languages.
With qualification only just underway there is no way to guess at the moment who might be there, but it would be fair to speculate on some of the main themes and teams that might be there or thereabouts when it comes to the crunch in the competition.
One of the main talking points is the idea of a European team winning a World Cup away from European soil and this could well be the best opportunity for this. As evidence, you can only look upon the intensely exciting and competitive European Championships of the past summer, which displayed to the football world some very good teams. Included in this group are of course winners Spain and the ever-efficient Germans, as well as the technically gifted Croatians, the battling Turks, the sublime Holland and the unpredictable Portuguese. Of course, the Czech Republic and Russia also showed great promise, and flops Italy and France should never be totally discarded.
A further point of contention is just how far an African nation might make it on home soil. It goes without saying that the standard of African football has come on leaps and bounds, as anyone who watched the frequently interesting African Cup of Nations earlier this year can attest. One team who will be keeping a particular eye will be Chelsea, who currently have the imperious Michael Essien, as well and Jon Obi Mikel and Salomon Kalou who hail from Africa on their books, so expect the Chelsea news blog to be claiming some reflected credit should any of them do well! Expect Essien`s Ghana and Nigeria to be a force, as well as Egypt, should they qualify.
As touched on above, the qualfication is yet to be anywhere near completed and at the moment it would appear that all the marquee names are going well, with maybe Argentina looking warily over their shoulder in the CONMEBOL area and Portugal, having taken only five points from four games, might be looking to pick up some form.
In all, the way European international football has appeared to have hit a resurgence recently, in addition to the spice of the South American teams in a magical place like Africa, it would appear we have an exciting tournament ahead; just 530-odd days to go!