The World Cup will, of course, be held in South Africa, but it will also have an impact on that nation's neighbors. Deutsche Welle looks at how soccer's premier event may benefit and impinge on the entire region.
Africa sees this year's event as its World Cup
Tourism in Namibia
For Namibia, the run-up to the 2010 World Cup began with something of a disappointment.
Residents of the former German colony had hoped that the German national team might set up its headquarters in their country. But Germany's football federation, the DFB, decided in the end that the team should be based in host nation itself.
"The Germans seemed to have different expectations," sighs Barry Rukoro, General Secretary of the Namibian Football Association.
Namibia hopes people will cross the border to enjoy the sights and stability
Still Rukoro, himself a passionate soccer fan, is looking forward to the start of the World Cup, and others still hope that Namibia could profit from the event being staged on its doorstep.
Namibia has one of the few stable democracies on the African continent and huge stretches of some of world's most beautiful nature preserves. Tourism authorities have prepared promotional material especially aimed at World Cup visitors.
"We're only one-and-a-half hours away from South Africa, and we have the same climate, the same currency and all the same things on offer as South Africa," says Whitney Greyton, who is responsible for World Cup promotions at the Namibia Tourism Board.
Now, all that remains to be scene is whether World Cup tourists will follow Namibia's lure.
Infrastructure in Botswana
Botswana is building new roads
Anticipation is also running high in Botswana.
"It's exciting to have a World Cup in a neighboring country," says the head of the Botswana Power Corporation, Jacob Raleru.
Botswana has used the occasion to make a number of infrastructural improvements, including widening the highway that leads to the Tlokweng border crossing with South Africa.
But some fear Botswana could be heading for some difficulties. The country has little agriculture of its own, and there are worries that food supplies could be disrupted.
Moreover, Botswana also gets most of its electricity from South Africa.
"Power supplies could get tight because it's winter down here," Raleru admits.
Batswana, as the citizens are known, are generally happy about basking in the reflected glow of football's elite - they just hope that the lights don't go out in the process.
Activists hope Zimbabwe will get more attention
In Zimbabwe, too, the fever pitch is building.
"It was simply South Africa's turn," says John Stanton, an activist at Zimbabwe Democracy Now. "It's good that the country got the world Cup, and we support it."
But some Zimbabwean's expectations of exciting on the pitch are coupled with hopes that the World Cup will focus attention on the country's ongoing political and economic crisis.
In particular, activists would like organizations like the Southern African Development Community and the government of South Africa itself to bring more pressure on Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for decades as a virtual dictator, to step down.
It's unlikely that the World Cup will bring about any changes that dramatic. But the Zimbabwean expectations do illustrate the extent of the hopes and worries among South Africa's neighbors, as football's biggest spectacle gets set to commence.
Author: Katrin Gänsler (jc)
Editor. Rob Mudge