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South Africa's New, Refurbished Stadiums Await World Cup Play

  • Scott Bobb

Argentina's national team coach, Diego Maradona inspected South Africa's stadiums and said he was impressed

Argentina's national team coach, Diego Maradona inspected South Africa's stadiums and said he was impressed

As the clock ticks down for the football World Cup in South Africa, maintenance workers and groundskeepers are putting the final touches on the 10 stadiums that will host the matches. Construction on the stadiums is complete and they have been handed over to the tournament's organizers.

South Africans are excited about hosting the football World Cup for the first time in Africa and they are especially proud of the new stadiums that will host the 64 matches.

The government has spent nearly $2 billion building five new stadiums, including this one in the southeastern city of Durban.

Football fan Nkosinathi Wellington came out to see South Africa's national team inaugurate the 70,000-seat stadium in a friendly match with Zimbabwe.

"The stadium is perfect for 2010, yeah, for the big matches," said Wellington.

This stadium will host seven Cup matches. Its arch, reaching 106 meters into the sky, recalls the national flag and has changed the city's skyline. You can travel to the top in a sky car for views of the city and Indian Ocean.

Cape Town, on the south Atlantic coast, boasts a new 70,000-seat stadium with backdrops of the apartheid-era prison at Robben Island on one side and its iconic Table Mount on the other. It will host eight games.

New stadiums have also been built in smaller cities, including Polokwane and Nelspruitt.

Five existing arenas have been extensively refurbished. The government wants to leave a football legacy in a country where the sport was neglected under apartheid.

The showpiece of the tournament is Johannesburg's 90,000-seat Soccer City outside Soweto. It will host eight matches including the opening and final games.

Argentina's national team coach, Diego Maradona inspected the stadiums and said he was impressed.

"This stadium means a lot," he said. "It is a splendid stadium such as is only seen in a few places on earth."

South Africans are excited about their new football facilities. But they also hope foreign fans will take time to visit some of the country's many tourist attractions and experience the people's warm hospitality.

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