Danny Joordan continues to silence the snakes in the grass

Danny Jordaan has had to listen to the doubts and the prejudice for six years.

He has had to listen to people say that South Africa would let the world down.

That they would never be able to stage the World Cup. That the stadia would not be ready.

That FIFA would have to turn to Australia or the USA at the last minute.

That 2010 was too early for Africa and that football should have waited until 2014 or 2018 before it entrusted the continent with a tournament as big as this.

Then, when it became obvious that the stadia would be ready in time and that targets would be met, further objections were thrown South Africa's way.

When the Togo team bus was attacked by terrorists in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda during the African Nations Cup in January, the doubters emerged again.

They said that even though Angola was in a different part of the continent and was struggling with a different set of social and historical issues, the attack was more proof that the World Cup in South Africa would be a disaster.

"Once we got over that, I knew that would be the end of it," Jordaan said yesterday, the final day of six years of preparation.

"I knew the critics had given up when stories started appearing that we had dangerous snakes in South Africa and that that could be a threat to the competition.

"People were saying they were so dangerous that one snake could kill off two teams. If that was all they had left to aim at us, I considered that to be them throwing in the towel."

Jordaan, the World Cup chief executive is the man who brought the tournament to South Africa. He gave South Africa's bid for 2010 the same drive and conviction that Lord Coe provided for London 2012.

His years of waiting, waiting for vindication and for the fulfilment of his dream, will finally end today when South Africa play Mexico at Soccer City in the World Cup's opening game.

A former anti-apartheid activist, Jordaan is in doubt about this World Cup's place in the troubled history of his country.

"We struggled for many years so that Nelson Mandela could be free and then the prison doors opened and he walked out," Jordaan said.

"Then we struggled for the vote and we got the vote and we elected our own government. And then we struggled to bring the World Cup here.

"My life was driven by major moments like that. The struggle to deliver the World Cup was another. Now it is here, I will look for a smaller job. Maybe I'll work in a post office. I have seen enough struggles."

When the whistle blows for kick-off this afternoon, Jordaan will deserve the credit for South Africa's achievement more than anyone.

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williamhill.com

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