Don't go off the beaten track - that's the advice that South Africa's World Cup ambassador, Mark Fish, gives when the standard question about security concerns is raised. Unlike most other people involved with the organisation of soccer's first-ever World Cup on the African continent, former Bafana Bafana star Fish is candid when talking about the fear factor most fans will carry along with their baggage to the June 11-July 11 extravaganza. Fish should know. In 2008, his Mooikloof home, in East Pretoria, was invaded by a gang brandishing pistols and AK-47s. They tied up his former wife Loui, his son, Luke, and a friend of his, before ransacking the house and stealing household appliances. 'Unfortunately, things like this can happen. Not only in South Africa, but anywhere in the world,' said Fish, who was in Hong Kong this week as part of the country's 100-day countdown to the World Cup. In 2005, when he was playing for Charlton Athletic, Fish was gagged and bound in his luxury house in London. His family was sleeping upstairs as four thugs made of with jewellery. Fish has been in the wars, so to speak, and his words, containing the knowledge of first-hand experience, speak volumes and carry this message for those staying away from South Africa - anything can happen in life, anywhere. 'I'm not going to guarantee the safety of the fans by saying they will not be harmed. Anything can happen. Things didn't happen to me only in South africa, it happened in England, too,' Fish said. 'You have to be realistic. Unfortunately, we do have crime in South Africa and we have criminals and, even though we try to protect our families, unfortunately they always find ways to do things,' he said. 'Security is a big issue, but around a stadium will be secure. We have never had an incident in any event we have ever hosted. 'Yet in all walks of life you cannot guarantee everything and obviously in the streets, there are certain areas that even I, as a South African, wouldn't go to, and I will tell tourists and soccer fans not to go there either. 'There are guidelines which tourists must adhere to, but in general we are telling everyone to come to South Africa and enjoy the World Cup. We guarantee the safety of all the fans when they go to the stadium.' So the message is loud and clear: stay on the beaten track. Thousands of rugby and cricket fans can vouch for that, for the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa went off without too many problems. England's barmy army has gone on many tours with the biggest worry being over their cricketers getting mugged on the field. Yet the soccer World Cup - the first time Fifa, soccer's world governing body, is taking it to Africa - is a totally different kettle of fish. It has been estimated that 450,000 overseas fans will make the trip. 'Everything is in place and everything is ready. The final countdown has begun and I'm really excited,' said Fish, 35, a former defender who made more than 200 appearances for Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic in the English Premier League. South Africa has poured 33 billion rand (HK$34.2 billion) into preparations for the tournament; the heavy construction is already finished at all 10 stadiums. Soccer City, the 95,000-seat venue for the opening and final matches in Johannesburg, should be handed over within a month. Major upgrades to airports in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Bloemfontein are complete, while Durban's new airport is set to open on May 1. South Africa has spent 2.4 billion rand on security alone, highlighting the concerns of a country with one of the highest crime rates in the world, averaging 50 murders every day. To counter any problem, there will be a huge blanket of police and security officers - 41,000 dedicated to policing the World Cup alone. Everything is apparently in place. Earlier this week, Jerome Valcke, Fifa's secretary general, declared South Africa's readiness to host the tournament was eight on a scale of one to 10. 'We will be at 10 on June 11,' Valcke said. 'South Africa is ready to host the World Cup.' Fish and other illustrious South African soccer stars, such as Lucas Radebe and Phil Masinga, and Ghana's Adei Pele and Liberian George Weah, have been appointed Fifa's World Cup 2010 ambassadors with the task of spreading the word. 'Hopefully, the fans will flock to South Africa, enjoy the football, enjoy our hospitality and hopefully they will come back on holiday a couple of years after the World Cup,' said Fish, who began his career as a striker with Jomo Cosmos, but later made a profitable change to became a central defender. He went on to win 62 caps for South Africa and played a crucial part in his country lifting the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996. 'I am very lucky to have played in a World Cup [France, 1998]. Unfortunately I was injured the next time when the tournament was held, in South Korea and Japan. 'It is a wonderful feeling to play in a World Cup - the best thing a footballer can do. Now I'm doing the next best thing, inviting people from Hong Kong and all over the world to come to South Africa,' Fish said. Despite the Bafana, which means 'boys', going through a bad patch, Fish hopes that they will be inspired by the home supporters. He dwelt on his experiences at the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations, which his country hosted. 'The fans lifted us and got behind us and we were fortunate to go on and win the tournament. 'I hope there will be a home ground advantage for the Bafana. When the stadium is roaring and the fans are singing the national anthem, the opposition will feel like they are playing against 13 men, not 11.' As if to demonstrate what he was talking about, a vuvuzela blared out its loud notes at that moment in Times Square, in Causeway Bay, during Wednesday's 100-day countdown ceremony. The African horns and the Diski Dance are bound to create a pressure-cooker atmosphere when South Africa face Mexico in the opening match on June 11. 'The Bafana haven't been playing well recently. It is a difficult time for us and we seem to have gone down, not only on the continent, but in world football, too. But we are trying to rally the nation around the team. 'I hope that the opening game at the stadium is full with 90,000 fans, and our players will get a result against Mexico. Then we can take it from there and anything can happen,' Fish added. Yes, life is full of uncertainties; anything can happen. But, just as Fish has said, anything can happen anywhere. 'I urge everyone to come to South Africa. We are ready to put on a great show and hopefully produce a wonderful tournament,' he said.