Afcon 2013 countdown begins

10 October 2012

With 100 days to go before the kick-off of the 2013 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) in South Africa, the Gauteng provincial government has called on locals to get behind the tournament.

The biennial competition will be staged in five South African cities, namely Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Rustenburg and Nelspruit, between 19 January and 10 February.

With both the opening and closing matches billed to take place at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium (formerly Soccer City), the Gauteng government is pulling out all the stops to ensure a successful event.

“We are very proud to once again be hosting the opening and closing of a major sporting event following the successful 2010 Fifa World Cup,” said Gauteng MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Lebogang Maile.

‘Start wearing the green and gold’

“As we join millions of South Africans in celebrating this milestone, I would like urge all Gauteng citizens to get ready for the tournament, buy tickets and rally behind the tournament to ensure that it becomes a success.”

Everyone should start wearing green and gold and fly the South African flag high, Maile added.

Leading up to the tournament, the department has planned a number of campaigns aimed at encouraging Gauteng communities to rally behind the tournament.

These include Magnificent Fridays, public viewing of the screening of the Afcon draw, the Mandela Challenge and Bafana Bafana matches.

The draw for the tournament is scheduled to take place in Durban on 24 October. Fifteen teams, who will emerge from the final qualifiers, will join hosts South Africa for the draw to determine the first-round groups for the tournament.

Zambia, or “Chipolopolo” as they are affectionately known, are the defending champions.

North West ‘fully behind tournament’

Meanwhile, the North West provincial government has also pledged its full support for the successful hosting of all Afcon 2013 matches to be played at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

“We will not shy from our responsibility to ensure that Rustenburg Local Municipality is given all the support it needs for a successful hosting of the tournament, as we have done during the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 Fifa World Cup,” North West Premier Thandi Modise told an Afcon local organising committee (LOC) delegation on Tuesday.

“While we have the infrastructure and the experience to host the matches, we will spare no effort to make South Africa proud hosts of the tournament in a safe and secure environment in our province,” Modise said, adding: “The hospitality of our people is our greatest advantage.”

The LOC delegation met with Modise and Sport, Arts and Culture MEC Tebogo Modise, for a briefing on interventions needed to ensure that the Royal Bafokeng Stadium is ready to host the prestigious tournament.

Modise expressed appreciation for the R5-million the Royal Bafokeng Administration, under the leadership of Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi, had committed towards construction of two additional dressing rooms and a referee’s dressing room at the stadium.

For its part, the province would commit resources and ensure that a technical team inclusive of all role players received all the support it needed, Modise said.

Among the issues identified as needing the highest priority were access to tickets, transportation of fans, and the need for partnerships to ensure maximum attendance of matches.