Govt happy with AFCON start

2013-01-20 18:08
Fikile Mbalula (AFP)
Johannesburg - Sports minister Fikile Mbalula says the government is pleased with opening of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Saturday.

"The smooth and seamless operations by our people is much appreciated, a recorded amount of 70 220 spectators attended the opening ceremony and games," Mbalula said in a statement on Sunday.

"The rainy conditions that took over our country yesterday (Saturday) ahead of the continental showpiece under the banner of the Africa Nations Cup South Africa 2013 did not deter football loving Africans to watch the glamorous opening ceremony and the beautiful game of football at the National Stadium."

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Bafana v Cape Verde

The South African soccer team got their campaign off to a rocky start with a goalless draw with Cape Verde Islands in rainy conditions.

Mbalula urged South African supporters to continue supporting Bafana Bafana despite their lacklustre performance.

"South Africa has not lost the tournament at all, hence we have to continue to support Bafana Bafana," he said.

"Yesterday's game was just the beginning and we will not give up on them."

He praised the Local Organising Committee for the work they have done up to this point.

"We would also like to congratulate the AFCON Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the sterling work they have done so far and for the sleepless nights they went through to put together this prestigious extravaganza for South Africa in particular and Africa in general," he said.

"We would like to thank the public for the way they behaved and co-operated with the security and officials at the various venues leading to the stadium."

He said government had delivered on its mandate of taking the tournament to ordinary citizens who could not attend the opening match.

"There were about 45 public viewing areas set up in both indoor and outdoor facilities across the country in places such as Diepsloot, Xhariep, Amalangeni, Mookgopong and Oudtshoorn," Mbalula said.

Mbalula called on supporters to adhere to restrictions such as not bringing umbrellas to the match venues.

"We understand the rainy conditions but for the safety of our supporters however they are not allowed inside the stadiums."

Read more on:    afcon  |  fikile mbalula  |  soccer

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