After South Africa’s success in hosting the first-ever soccer World Cup in Africa, the government needs to use the same determination to deal with the country’s social problems, say church leaders.

“We must use our considerable skill and learning to tackle the most pressing issues in our country: education, healthcare, and criminality and service delivery,” the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Durban, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, said in a mid-July statement.

Napier said South Africa is a society in transformation and that the World Cup has given the country an opportunity to work together and prove that it is a nation full of capable people.

Running from June 11-July 11, the World Cup brought more than 18,000 international journalists to South Africa to cover the soccer tournament.

“This has been a wonderful World Cup, but it doesn’t negate the fact that the majority of South Africans don’t have houses, schools, clinics, running water and many more things,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu was quoted as saying by the South African daily newspaper, The Times.

“If we were able to deliver such a project in just six years, imagine what we could have achieved in 20 years,” added the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who recently announced his intention to retire after his 79th birthday in October.

South Africa was praised by the president of the world soccer governing body FIFA for the way it organized the 2010 tournament.

“South Africa has proved to the world that it is able to organize an event of this nature. And the trust that FIFA had put in this country has been answered with a big, big success,” Sepp Blatter said.

The Ecumenical Service for Socio-Economic Transformation, a social justice group campaigning against poverty, said, however, that the World Cup had exposed the social injustices that have always existed for the poor and marginalized, especially street traders.

“We will continue to advocate for social economic inclusiveness of the poor guided by their interests,” Thabo Koole, the group'’ spokesperson, told ENInews on July 29.