DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — South African President Jacob Zuma said Wednesday his country is ready to ensure security for the upcoming World Cup, brushing off fears stemming from a deadly attack on Togo's national football team.
"We are ready. There is no doubt about it. We are confident nothing will ever happen," Zuma said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
South Africa has one of the world's highest murder rates, and security has been a major challenge as the country prepares to become the first in Africa to host the World Cup. Safety fears mounted after three people were killed when the Togolese national football team was attacked en route to the African Cup of Nations in Angola earlier this month.
But Zuma warned against unfair comparisons.
He said his government has been working hard to ensure security, despite concerns about "what happened in the African tournament in Angola."
"You cannot equate (Angola) with South Africa," Zuma said. Angola has only recently overcome decades of violence, while South Africa is the continent's economic powerhouse with a richer and larger security structure, he said.
"South Africa has a very clear plan in terms of security. The police force aided by our army and other security elements are very clearly ready," he said.
An estimated 450,000 fans will visit the country for the 32-team, monthlong tournament at 10 venues in nine cities across the country for the June 11-July 11 World Cup.
Zuma also shrugged off the low expectations of his low-ranked team at the tournament.
"We always rise to the occasion." Those who think his team is weak "are making the biggest mistake," he said.
"We'll surprise you. The cup will remain in the borders of South Africa," Zuma said, to laughter in a crowd at the Davos forum.
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