eThekwini City Manager Dr Mike Sutcliffe disclosed this yesterday when he said Durban would take the first steps toward hosting the 2011 Fifa event when the 2008 African qualifying tournament takes place at New Beach from March 25-30.
“With this in mind, it is crucial that this year’s qualifying tournament lives up to the reputation of the 2006 and 2007 events which were rated by Fifa as two of the best organised beach soccer tournaments ever held anywhere in the world,” Sutcliffe added.
“We are also bidding to host the IOC congress in 2011 and if we get both, it will elevate the city to new levels. It will give Durban a chance to deliver real African excellence.”
The Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup has always been held in the “home of beach soccer”, Rio, but from this year the event will move to different cities in an attempt to increase the global appeal of what is a fast growing and exciting spin-off of traditional field soccer.
The 2008 World Cup will be held in Marseilles in France in July.
At the draw South Africa were drawn with Senegal, Mozambique and Egypt in Group A, while Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Ivory Coast and Nigeria are in group B. The teams will play round-robin pool matches on March 25, 26 and 27.
The semi-finals between the top two teams in each pool will take place on March 29.
The two semi-final winners will playoff for top spot on March 30, although the two finalists both qualify for the World Cup finals in Marseilles.
While the South African team will be happy to have avoided Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, they will be aware that Egypt and Senegal will be tough to beat.
Former South African captain, Mark Williams, who was at the draw on Wednesday, gave his impression of the two groups.
“Group B will be a tough pool, but there will be no easy games in this tournament. South Africa’s first match will be very hard against Senegal, but if they can get a win against Mozambique the next day it will probably set up a “quarter-final” match against Egypt with the winner going through to the semis.”
The full Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup 2011 qualifying schedule of matches in Durban is:
Tuesday, March 25 (first match at 11h00 with other matches to follow thereafter): Cameroon v Cape Verde, Island Egypt v Mozambique, Nigeria v Ivory Coast, South Africa v Senegal.
Wednesday, March 26 (first match at 11h00 with other matches to follow thereafter): Cameroon v Ivory Coast, Egypt v Senegal, Cape Verde Island v Nigeria, South Africa v Mozambique.
Thursday, March 27 (first match at 11h00 with other matches to follow thereafter): Cape Verde Island v Ivory Coast, Mozambique v Senegal, Nigeria v Cameroon, South Africa v Egypt
Saturday, March 29 (first match at 12h45 with second match to follow thereafter): Semi Final 1: 1st Group B v 2nd Group A, Semi Final 2: 1st Group A v 2nd Group B
Sunday, March 30 (first match at 12h45pm with second match to follow thereafter):Playoff for 3rd place, Final