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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid