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WC final venue Soccer City to open doors

The World Cup final stadium opens its doors on Saturday with organisers hoping to attract a crowd of 80,000 to Johannesburg's Soccer City for the South African FA Cup final.

sports Updated: May 19, 2010 23:27 IST

The World Cup final stadium opens its doors on Saturday with organisers hoping to attract a crowd of 80,000 to Johannesburg's Soccer City for the South African FA Cup final.

The imposing arena, on the outskirts of the city, is the last of the World Cup venues to be officially opened, having undergone an almost complete renovation.

The inaugural game at the revamped venue had been saved for this weekend's cup final although hopes for a sell-out crowd have been dashed by the progress of two unfancied teams to the final.

But the South African Premier Soccer League is still hoping to persuade locals to be part of pre-World Cup fever and view at close hand the massive stadium, built like an African calabash or pot, will be worth the R40 (about 4 euros) ticket price, even if finalists AmaZulu of Durban and Wits University are poorly supported.

Ghanaian federation apologises to Ballack

The Ghanian football federation on Wednesday apologised to Michael Ballack for the tackle which ended his World Cup dreams.

“We're sorry that Michael Ballack cannot take part in the World Cup. He is well known in Ghana. We wish him all the best and hope that he can play again as soon as possible,” Ghanian team director Anthony Baffoe told the German newspaper Kolner Express on behalf of his federation.

Nigeria confirm warm-up matches

Nigeria will play a friendly against Saudi Arabia on May 25 in Austria, as preparation for the World Cup next month, the BBC reported Wednesday on its website, citing a Nigerian football official.

Nigeria will face Saudi Arabia in Wattens, in western Tyrol province, before meeting Colombia in London on May 30, a spokesman for the Nigerian football federation told the BBC.

A last preparation match will then be played against North Korea in Johannesburg on June 6, he said, blaming the late planning on logistical problems.