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Locals in no hurry as tickets released

An estimated one million World Cup tickets were made available on Saturday in the latest phase of sales for the 2010 finals amid fears not enough tickets were being bought by the South African hosts because of the cost.

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About 90 percent of the previously available tickets have been sold, but FIFA and local organisers are having to implement an aggressive marketing campaign to entice more sales to locals.

South African residents have bought just over half of the 674,403 tickets already sold in the first two phases of sales, FIFA said. Now that the fixture list is decided after Friday's draw, locals could be enticed by the game's global stars and marquee fixtures such as Brazil against Portugal.

"What we have to do now is to keep that passion and support for the World Cup alive, not just in terms of what happens on the field but also in terms of selling tickets," South Africa 2010 chief executive officer Danny Jordaan said after Friday's draw in Cape Town.

The slower pace of sales in South Africa contrasts with the demand for the last finals in Germany, where an average of six applications were received for each available ticket.

Jordaan said his compatriots had a habit of buying tickets for sports events at the last minute, though prices have been set much higher than that normally paid by South African fans. The cheapest World Cup ticket is US$20 while to attend local premier league matches costs around US$3.

The tickets released on Saturday would be made available through a random ballot with international fans applying though the internet, while locals could make applications at bank branches. Applications close on January 22.

The exact number of tickets available is not certain as tickets reserved for sponsors and marketing partners but not taken up, are now being offered to the general public, FIFA said. Officials said it would be around one million tickets, considerably more than made available in the first phase.

There are a total of 3.7-million tickets for the tournament with almost a third taken up by sponsors and FIFA members. There are two further phases of ticket sales in early 2010.

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