Richard Jackson is blogging throughout the World Cup as he travels around South Africa from Cape Town to Johannesburg. You can follow his journey through the ‘Bolton Raider’ facebook page and on www.subsidesports.com
With the World Cup just a few days away it’s finally time for Bolton Raider to head to South Africa. Despite a few travel readjustments due to the BA strikes we’re set to arrive in Cape Town on Tuesday , with plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere before the tournament begins on Friday. You can keep up to date with everything direct from South Africa right here as we’ll be reporting from Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Johannesburg.
As this is my first international tournament I’ve had the opportunity to report from and my first visit to Africa I really am in unchartered territory, albeit without the £1,000 a day security operations that some reporters enjoy. To date I’ve not been overly concerned with security at the tournament. Whilst the crime rates and hijack horror stories may not make for easy reading, it seems that the media have ignored the fact that this South Africa’s has held major events many times before. South Africa has successfully hosted the Rugby World Cup, Champions Trophy and was even the chosen destination of last year’s IPL and whilst the FIFA World Cup is the biggest event of the lot it’s also coupled with one of the most elaborate police operations in the nations history. With a little luck, a cautious approach and some common sense should allow visitors from around the world to enjoy South Africa for the rich sporting heritage, breathtaking scenery and hospitable locals that the country is famed for.
On the football side of things injuries to some key players have really opened up the tournament. It’s a real blow for any country to lose their Captain so close to a World Cup, although England fan’s really shouldn’t feel too hard done by. Rumours of England being ‘cursed’ are a little vulgar considering a whole host of other nations have all lost their talisman to injury. Ferdinand is a world class defender of course, although his season has been disjointed by injuries and he has never truly found his best form. Ferdinand’s omission is far less problematic for England than Ballack’s is for Germany and injuries to Drogba, Essien and Mikel have left a trio of African teams with worries that dwarf those that Capello faces. Overcoming such setbacks will not be easy although you can bet an extra spot on the starting team sheet has added a hint of spice to training camp. For those young and eager there may be a sense of ‘nothing to lose’, but for the likes of Ledley King it offers a final chance to establish themselves on the international stage. It is both cruel and ironic that the spotlight will be on King’s fitness as much as his form.