Zuma to open soccer championship tomorrow

Friday, January 10, 2014

Cape Town – Its all systems go for the third Africa Nations Championship which kicks off tomorrow afternoon, Mvuzo Mbebe, the chief executive of the local organising committee announced today, adding that President Jacob Zuma is expected to open the tournament

Briefing the media at the Cape Town International Conference Centre (CTICC), Mvuzo assured fans that the standards set by last year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) last year – also hosted in South Africa – would not fall during this tournament.

“It’s a commitment we don’t take lightly, it’s a commitment that is dear to our hearts,” stressed Mbebe.

The opening ceremony starts at 3pm at Cape Town Stadium tomorrow, with hosts South Africa set to take on Mozambique at 6pm, with Mali squaring up against last year’s Afcon winners Nigeria at 9pm.

Mbebe said 21 000 tickets have so far been sold for tomorrow’s double header and added that 30 000 tickets are still available.

He was frank about his view on ticket sales, saying he wasn’t happy with sales so far.

“But I’m not despondent, I’m not pessimistic. Last year (with Afcon) we were sitting at the same point last year, but the country in the end came together,” he said, adding that he was confident that the country’s African diaspora would come out in their numbers to the match.

In all, 32 matches will be played on 16 match days at four stadiums – at Polokwane, Bloemfontein and in Cape Town at Athlone Stadium and in the Cape Town Stadium – with the final set for February 1, at Cape Town Stadium.

Mbebe said the organisers aim to distribute a total of at least 350 000 sold and complementary tickets, and had so far distributed 195 000

Turning to team preparations he said teams were in overall happy with security, transport and hotel arrangements, after having arrived at their respective venues and hotels and began training on Wednesday and had received transportation and carried out security checks.

He said 14 of the 16 teams have already arrived in their respective host cities and have been training since Wednesday.

Burundi and Ethiopia are expected to arrive in the country in the next 48 hours, while the Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Almamy Camara is due to arrive in the city tomorrow morning, he said.

CAF Vice-President Amadou Diakite assured fans that all the means had been employed to have an excellent tournament.

He added that because the tournament featured only those players that play on the continent, it effectively acts as a flagship for CAF to showcase local talent.

Dedicated trains as well as 45 dedicated buses will be available for all four stadiums to transport fans.

A luxury train will run between Johannesburg and Cape Town priced at R10 500 and another between Johannesburg and Bloemfontein at R4 500 – with the price including accommodation onboard during the match day.

The first African Nations Championship took place in the Ivory Coast in 2009 and featured just eight teams, with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) being crowned the first champions.

The competition was expanded to 16 teams in the last tournament held in Sudan in 2011, which was won by Tunisia. – SAnews.gov.za