News / Africa

    Subdued Excitement as S. Africa Hosts Africa Cup of Nations

    South Africa's Kagisho Dkgacoi (L) is challenged by Algeria's Adlane Guedioura during their international friendly soccer match in Soweto, January 12, 2013, in preparation for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
    South Africa's Kagisho Dkgacoi (L) is challenged by Algeria's Adlane Guedioura during their international friendly soccer match in Soweto, January 12, 2013, in preparation for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
    Anita Powell
    South Africa is hosting this year’s Africa Cup of Nations football (soccer) tournament, but you would not know it to look around Johannesburg, which is the site of the opening match and the final. It is a far cry from the mania that washed over South Africa when the nation hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010. But officials say the excitement will build slowly, and fans will come around.

    “It’s here, can you feel it?” was the question heard across South Africa when the nation hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

    But as South Africa kicks off the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON, the answer is, not really.

    The tournament begins Saturday with a match between South Africa and Cape Verde. That match is sold out, but ticket sales for the other matches have been sluggish and have fallen short of the half-million target, with just 400,000 tickets sold.

    It is, to be fair, a much smaller tournament than the World Cup, which cost more than $3 billion.  AFCON CEO Mvuzo Mbebe said he estimates the African tournament’s cost topped out at just over $100 million.

    He says organizers expect as many as 40,000 fans from other African nations, plus some 200,000 South African fans. The national team, Bafana Bafana, is playing this year as a host nation after failing to qualify for the last two tournaments.

    Mbebe says he expects the tournament to be a success, but he still expects some setbacks.

    “It happens at the World Cup. There will be games where it’s difficult to fill the stadium. But I think the majority of games in this instance, whether Bafana Bafana is playing or not, we are going to get," said Mbebe. "I can tell you now, that in our projections, when games are being played in Mbombela, that stadium is going to be full and Bafana Bafana is not going to be there. Our projection is that when Ghana plays in Nelson Mandela Bay, we’ll get 40 to 50 percent of the stadium full. I think we are going to start getting those numbers. So I don’t think we are really going to have truly, truly empty stadiums except one or two games.”

    Mbebe acknowledged that South Africa has not had much time to prepare for the event, especially since the nation was not the first choice. The original host, Libya, had a revolution in 2011 and handed off their hosting duties.

    But South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula says he thinks the nation can pull off a great tournament on a short deadline.

    “South Africa’s got a history to host tournaments in a short period of time," said Mbalula. "We hosted [the Indian Premier League cricket tournament] here, the biggest showpiece, in a very short space of time, well attended and all of that, in a very short space of time, we didn’t have problems. So we’ve got history, because we’re confident that our people love football and these things that we bring them, they only see them from afar, and once they are here people will grab them with both opportunities. So we are quite confident that we will basically do well.”

    For football (soccer) lovers, this tournament promises some delights. It is going to be the final nation’s cup appearance for former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast. It is also the debut appearance for the team from tiny Cape Verde.

    VOA spoke to some half-a-dozen men on the streets of Johannesburg, and none said they had tickets. All said they would try to get them, and that they were supporting Bafana Bafana. 

    Twenty-five-year-old Gustaph Tshepo also says he wants his home team to win, but he is putting his money on Nigeria taking the title. He says he will try to go to a match if he can, but lamented that the tournament is not as well publicized as the World Cup was.

    "Like, in 2010, there was posters, everything, everything. But now, African Cup of Nations, I don’t know…  Africans, I’m not sure we have the right marketing points of views, I’m not sure if there’s a problem or what. But I think many people don’t know about the African Cup of Nations," said Tshepo.

    But organizers say the enthusiasm will build slowly, and that by the end, we will all be feeling it.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.