Johannesburg - Tickets sales for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa may only have topped the 20 000 mark this week, but it is the best ever at this stage compared to previous tournaments, according to the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The continental body insists it is pleased with the work by the Local Organising Committee (LOC) to try and fill the stadiums for the competition.
“It is only better compared to previous tournaments, to be honest, because in prior editions tickets are not even sold prior to the draw,” secretary general Hicham El Amrani said on Thursday.
“It is not very easy to sell tickets before you know who is playing where, so we’re quite happy. But it doesn’t mean that we’re satisfied with that number, we’re just going to be working harder to increase it.”
The draw for the January 19 to February 10 finals was conducted in Durban on Wednesday night, with Bafana Bafana pooled in Group A alongside Morocco, Angola and debutants Cape Verde Islands, who they play in the opening game at FNB Stadium.
El Amrani explained that with the 16 teams now knowing exactly where they will be based, it will be a lot easier to sell tickets.
“Right now we are at more than 20 000, which is good,” El Amrani said.
"Ticketing is definitely a top priority."
CAF defended the decision for prize money to remain the same from the last finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea last year.
The winners will pocket $1.5m and the runners up $750 000, while the overall sum stands at %10m.
“We’re still proud of it, because look where we come from. Look at the history of the prize money that CAF has given over the past 20 years and you will see the difference of increase is maybe 250 percent.
“We are not FIFA, we are not UEFA by far. We know that and realise it."
West African giants Ivory Coast landed the "Group of Death" after they were included alongside former winners Tunisia and Algeria, as well as Togo in Group D.
Another continental powerhouse Ghana was drawn in Group B, along with Mali, Niger and Democratic Republic of Congo. Defending champions Zambia will face Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia in Group C.