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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs