A few hours from now, 2010 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony will be under way, ending the long wait for world soccer fans, as the globe's 32 best soccer teams begin a month of grueling matches for the coveted Cup.
The 40-minute opening ceremony starts at 2:00pm (1200 GMT) Friday ahead of the opening match between hosts South Africa and Mexico. It will be beamed live in more than 215 countries, with an expected global audience of 500 million.
The entire world has its eyes on the Soccer City Stadium at Johannesburg, where 85,000 fans will witness the extravaganza live, expected to be a one big night for the soccer fans.
South Africa's legendary trumpeter will jazz up the opening ceremony with American R-and-B star R Kelly and Soweto Spiritual Singers, but all eyes will be on the hot Colombian princess, , set to rock the big day with 'Waka Waka', the official 2010 World Cup theme song.
Popular artistes , the Black Eyed Peas, will also grace the event; so are some big names from Africa including Amadou, Hip Hop Pantsula and Hugh Masekela.
All eyes will be on the stands for a glimpse of Mandela, who will be opening the event. Mandela's family confirmed that the 91-year-old icon of the anti-apartheid struggle would attend the opening match, if only for a while, ending weeks of uncertainty over whether the increasingly frail former--and first--president would grace the occasion.
His grandson confirmed Madiba's attendance. "He will come and greet the fans, before he retires to his home," said Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, adding: "We're trying to see how long he will stay at the stadium. At least 10 to 15 minutes."
Mandela's intervention proved critical at key moments in the campaign to bring one of the world's prestigious sporting events to Africa for the first time. And, FIFA president has called him "the person who got the World Cup for South Africa".
Organizer Derek Carstens has promised a "big surprise" during the first seven minutes of the opening ceremony.
The organizers have also said that they are bringing out the best of what South Africa can offer, picturising the African beauty, the culture, the people and the whole African continent's traditions.