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Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke has dismissed concerns over empty stadiums at the World Cup by claiming that grounds will be at least 95% full.

“We are working on a number of additional programmes,” said Valcke, who added that none of the 300,000 unsold tickets would be given away.

Valcke expects 360,000 foreign visitors in South Africa during the tournament.

The secretary-general conceded that “we have to work on our ticketing” after disappointing initial sales ahead of the first African World Cup.

Organisers have admitted the initial reliance on internet sales was not the most “friendly” system for local fans.

Demand from visiting fans has been lower than originally thought, with a significant number of tickets being returned, including those from corporate sponsors.

The effects of the global recession have been partly to blame, while fears of crime have also contributed to the relative lack of travelling supporters.

Meanwhile, FIFA president Sepp Blatter is hopeful that former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, 91, will be well enough attend fixtures at the tournament.

“We cross fingers that Nelson Mandela can realise this dream,” said Blatter.

“And his dream would be to be at the opening of the World Cup. For the time being, he is doing well and we hope that he can do it.”

Blatter also expressed his hope that an African team would enjoy a successful World Cup on African soil, although he questioned the wisdom of appointing a new coach so close to the finals.

South Africa appointed Carlos Alberto Parreira last October, Lars Lagerback took over at Nigeria in February and Ivory Coast replaced Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic with Sven-Goran Eriksson last month.

“The talent of African players is at least as great as that of players from other countries, including Brazil and the Americas,” said the Fifa president.

“They have got more in terms of individual talent. It is as if they are dancing or playing at acrobatics.

“What is missing is tactics, but how can they have this if they change the coach just a few months before the start of the biggest competition in the world?

“This continuity is missing because it is so important to feel the soul of the country where you are coaching, and how can you do this in a few months?

“The African teams have always been good competitors at the Club World championship and I’m waiting for an African team to get to the semi-final of the World Cup.

Man City have won both games against Arsenal this season but can they claim 3 points at the Emirates? Best betting here.

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