World Cup 2010 Stadium Guide – Soccer City, Johannesburg

Soccer City is the jewel in the crown of South Africa’s World Cup. Built in 1989 the home of the infamous Kaiser Chiefs football team has had US$310,000,000 spent on upgrading this colossal landmark into a 94,000 capacity stadium. New flood lights, changing rooms and corporate areas were fitted as part of the makeover. The exterior has been modified to resemble a terracotta cooking pot used in the region symbolising this is the melting pot where the first African World Cup will be decided. With easy access from the airport and a widened highway, the stadium is accessible from anywhere and it also has 15,000 car parking spaces and numerous park and ride options. The stadium also has history, as it was notably the venue for Nelson Mandela’s first major rally after his release from prison, as well as being the venue for the 1996 CAF African Cup of Nations final, which South Africa won.

Soccer City is located in Johannesburg’s Soweto district and this in itself is like a city. A guided tour around the town is a superb way to get to grips with the area and there is much to take in. The Hector Pieterson Museum, Nelson Mandela’s old house and Walter Sisulu Square are just some of the attractions, along with Regina Mundi Church which is a must see. There are many bars and restaurants for all tastes and with the fan park in Newtown, there is enough to keep you occupied. Johannesburg is safer than it used to be, but it is worth remembering to stick to the fan parks and recommended areas, keep in groups and if hiring a car, do not hire flashy Mercedes or BMW’s, as car jacking is an ongoing problem.

Soccer City will see the most important games in the tournament with eight games in all, including the World Cup Final. The first event is the opening ceremony, followed by the first match between South Africa and Mexico. This will no doubt be the first taster into the magnificence that will be Africa’s first World Cup. The Netherlands are in town next and they will bring a mass of support both from Holland and the local areas, as they take on Denmark in Group E’s first major clash. June 17th brings Maradona’s Argentina, who will look to navigate their way through a tough tie against South Korea. Then, the force of Brazil, who will come with the flamboyant sounds of the Samba and fight it out with the Ivory Coast, and their hoards of fans.

African influence again will be felt in the last of the group games when Ghana take on the might of Germany in the final group game of Group D. The second round will see the winners of group B take on the runners up of group A, which could throw up a tie between South Africa and Argentina. The quarter-finals will also have a game played here and at this stage, the games always prove to be electric. On July 11th, the biggest game in World football will take place in Soccer City, The World Cup Final. This is where the history books are written, especially as it is the first World Cup that will be won in Africa. It will not only be won in a wonderful continent but it will be won in a spectacular stadium.

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