Concerns Persist as Venue is Cut From World Cup Dress Rehearsal

Delays in construction have cased FIFA officials to remove Port Elizabeth from the list of host cities for the 2009 Confederations Cup, the dress rehearsal tournament before the 2010 World Cup. Concerns remain about the country's readiness.

"Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay stadium was the only new venue among the five planned for the eight-nation Confederations tournament, which will serve as a vital test for the big event, Africa's first World Cup."

"The other stadiums, in Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Rustenburg, needed only renovations to be ready for the smaller tournament and were obvious choices. Port Elizabeth was included because it was the first of the proposed new venues for 2010 at which construction had begun, and project managers and the coastal city's leaders promised it would take under two years to complete."

"To be fair, Port Elizabeth's sidelining for the 2009 tournament should have no impact on the World Cup itself, and the construction of the stadium should be finished well before the December '09 deadline for the 10 venues to be completed. But it does little to lift the Afro pessimism regarding the finals, which was deepened by recent comments from Sepp Blatter."

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