Unity, diversity and the beauty of Africa was witnessed today, 09/01/13, when the Province of KwaZulu-Natal and the eThekwini Municipality cemented its readiness to host Africa’s spectacular soccer tournament, the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations with a 10 Day Countdown Celebration at Gugu Dlamini Park in Durban.
 
The much anticipated day kicked off with a colorful street parade that began at Albert Park through the City’s main streets. The parade brought the City Centre to a standstill as people were appreciating the different African cultures that were being displayed during the parade.
 
From the spectacular vibrant dances to the ever colorful Rikshaw displays, the parade, which was led by the AFCON 2013 Mascot Takuma, was used to create awareness about the tournament and to encourage members of the public to buy tickets. MEC for Sports and Recreation, Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha, MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Mike Mabuyakhulu, MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Ms Nomusa Dube, MEC for Finance Ina Cronje, eThekwini Mayor, Cllr James Nxumalo and member of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) Board, Alpha Mchunu, were among the dignitaries who attended the event.
 
The AFCON Tournament kicks off in Johannesburg on 19 January with a game between Bafana Bafana and Cape Verde; and Durban’s Moses Mabhida stadium will host the first matches on January 23.
 
Addressing a large crowd of sport enthusiasts on behalf of the Premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize, MEC Mabuyakhulu said, with 10 days to go the awareness campaign will now be intensified to galvanise more support for the tournament.
 
“We will not lower the standard when we are about to host our very own African tournament compared to the 2010 World Cup. About 10.4% of people buying from South Africa are our brothers from the neighbouring countries, they contribute significantly to our economy. From the tourism perspective, we need to treat our visitors well so that they will come back in future. In districts outside eThekwini we will have public viewing areas because the tournament belongs to everyone. It is now time to see those cars spotting South African flags and people wearing the national team soccer jersey,” said Mabuyakhulu.
 
Emphasising the importance of supporting the national team and the buying of tickets, MEC Sibhidla-Saphetha said the people of KwaZulu-Natal are big sports enthusiasts and they are known for filling up the stadium whenever there are games taking place in the province. She said this is the culture that will not fade even during this tournament.
 
“We call on our people to go out in their numbers and buy tickets. We also encourage those who work in flexible environments to wear their Bafana Bafana jerseys everyday from today up until the end of the tournament. We are happy with the way our National team is performing at the moment and we strongly believe that with our support, the boys will go all the way to the finals. Let us fill Moses Mabhida stadium to capacity and our boys will reward us by doing well in this tournament,” said Sibhidla-Saphetha
 
Mayor Nxumalo said fans can expect a bumper tournament.
“These matches will be played as double headers. This means that you can use one ticket to watch two matches in a day. As the City we are targeting 50 000 spectators per game. With over 35 000 tickets sold already we are confident that we will reach the 50 000 mark by next week judging from the numbers we have had today at our 10 Day Celebrations. The locals are now pumped up for the event and we are expecting the long queues at the tickets outlets and at our kiosk at Moses Mabhida stadium,” said Nxumalo.
 
Mchunu said the LOC was confident that the tournament will be a big success:
 
“We are happy with the cooperation we have received from the National, Provincial and Local Governments, traditional leaders and other community structures throughout the country. So it goes without a doubt that this tournament will be a huge success with the support of these structures. We should not be shaken by minor challenges that we have had leading up to the games. People must remember that we took over from Libya who could not host the games due to a war. Within a short space of time we have managed to put together what will be a spectacular tournament. We have 5000 volunteers that will ensure the success of the tournament. The problem of tickets has also been solved and people can now simply walk in to Moses Mabhida stadium and participating Super Spars and purchase tickets with ease,” said Mchunu.
 
The tickets cost from as little as R50 up to R70 for the group stages, between R75 and R100 for the quarterfinals and between R100 and 140 for the semifinals. Tickets can be purchased at all participating Super Spars and at Moses Mabhida stadium. People can also buy them through telesales on 087 980 3000 or www.eqtickets.com.
 
For more information please contact Thabo Mofokeng on 082 731 7456/ 031 311 4820 or e-mail thabo1.mofokeng@durban.gov.za
 
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality’s Communications Unit, Simphiwe Dlamini
031 311 4850/0827926899 or e-mail: simphiwe.dlamini@durban.gov.za.