The FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt has reached its final week, with a champion to be crowned on Friday in Cairo. With the football competition drawing near a close, Egyptians are offering advice for South Africans on organizing a big event, as the continent prepares for the full-fledged version of the World Cup next year.
With their first experience as a host country for a FIFA event nearly behind them, Egyptians are looking ahead to the World Cup in South Africa next year, and are anxious to share their experiences with their fellow Africans.
Thousands of Egyptians helped out with the organization of this three-week event as volunteers and members of the local organizing committee.
Stephanie Schenouda is the assistant director for media and communication for the Egyptian local organizing committee.
"The advice I would give is to be organized from the beginning of the competition, and do everything perfectly, prepare the schedule of the match, prepare the volunteers earlier, everything concerning the tournament," Schenouda said.
The Under-20 World Cup draws only a fraction of the fans that the full World Cup will bring to South Africa, when hordes of supporters from 32 nations will descend on the southern end of the continent.
Considering the scale of the challenge faced by South Africa, the organization next year will need to be even better than what the Egyptians have offered thus far, says Sydney Malangu, a photographer from Johannesburg working at the Under-20 World Cup.
"What I have seen here, South Africa can give much better, because it is a larger scale and everyone will be looking at South Africa. It has been a good experience, tough though, a lot of challenges, but I am still getting through. The first games, preparations were a little bit not on point, but as the tournament progressed, everything was coming together," Malangu said.
Egyptian journalist George Riad says South Africa's good showing as host at the Confederations Cup earlier this year and ample infrastructure in South Africa make the country a good bet to hold an excellent tournament.
"As we know South Africa is the best African country if we talk about facilities and about infrastructure, about the stadiums, so the main thing is that all the fans are worried about is security. It will be not like in Germany or Japan and Korea, but what we saw in the Continental Cup can make us confident of good organization," Riad said.
Schenouda says Egyptians wish the South Africans well, and share a sense of pride over the tournament with other Africans.
"The African people are capable doing really good things and organizing great events, they have good capabilities," she said.
The FIFA Under-20 World Cup ends Friday, at which point the world's sporting attention shifts to the U-17 World Cup, beginning later this month in Nigeria. That tournament is the final warm-up in a series designed by FIFA to highlight the hosting capacities of the African continent leading up to the World Cup, which kicks off next June in Johannesburg.