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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

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By ESPN Staff

Blatter satisfied with hosts after Confed success

FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes that South Africa is 75% ready to host next year's World Cup finals.

Addressing a press conference in Johannesburg to reflect on the Confederations Cup, which ended yesterday, the chief of the world game praised the organisers, but said more needed to be done ahead of Africa's first staging of the global showpiece.

"I can say that the rehearsal from the FIFA point of view has been satisfactory,'' he said. "We are on the very positive side when we go to do an assessment.

"One of the items that specifically has always been put into question was that of security. The organising committee, with Danny Jordaan as chief executive, have done a very good job.

"The hospitality has been remarkable. We know that some of the logistical things, like transport and accommodation, will have to be worked on. But compliments to the organisers.

"Accessing the work that has been done on a scale of 1-10, I would say that you are at 7.5. This is before the beginning of the next activity, which is the draw.

"If you pass that, then it could be eight and at the end of the World Cup, you could be at 10. This is my assessment.''

Blatter was also pleased with the action on the field, which culminated yesterday with defending champions Brazil snatching a thrilling 3-2 victory over the United States.

He continued: "Over the 16 matches, we've seen good football.

"The tournament has produced very attractive football, passionate football, football with results that have not been expected and games that reached the final moments before being decided. This is one of the most important things.''

One worrying factor for organisers before the tournament was the performance of the host team, but Blatter said that Bafana Bafana's showing - they finished fourth after going down 3-2 to Spain in the third-place play-off - was also another encouraging aspect.

"They have improved from the first match to the last match,'' he said. "Again yesterday, they not only created problems, but almost brought down the European champions.

"Also remember what they did in the semi-final against Brazil when they lost in the last minute. So we look forward to them getting even better.''

Jordaan, the man who has worked tirelessly on the local front to bring the tournament to Africa, was also happy with the way the tournament ran, adding: "It was after the fans celebrated in the stadium following the closing ceremony when we had a smile on our face.

"I think this event has brought and produced the most diverse audience in any sporting event in this country, and this is a huge contribution that this Confederations Cup has made.

"We are happy that he (Blatter) is happy and is satisfied that we have delivered.

"But the celebrations should be short, because last night was the end of the Confederations Cup and today is the first day to deliver the final draw and then the World Cup.''

Blatter himself was also thrilled to have moved closer to his dream that the African continent would one day host the World Cup, adding that they had the full support of FIFA.

He said: "The FIFA World Cup on the African continent is a very important issue for the FIFA family. Everybody has agreed after long dissertations and criticism that yes, let's say yes to Africa and in this case to South Africa.

"Members of the executive committee and the presidents of all the confederations, who are not here, everybody, all 24 members are now convinced that the decision was right to come here.''

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