Zuma: SA humbled by CAF
Johannesburg - Soccer can be a catalyst for social change, President Jacob Zuma said at the Africa Cup of Nations final draw in Durban on Wednesday evening.
"Each match will be a demonstration that sport, particularly football, can be a catalyst for social change, peace and unity in the African continent," he said in a speech prepared for delivery.
"For this reason, the AU's long term aim is to promote football as a continent-wide and integrative sport."
He said soccer would also be used to support the Make it Happen campaign, aimed at bringing lasting peace and stability to Africa.
With 86 days to go before the tournament begins, Zuma said South Africa was humbled by the trust the Confederation of African Football had placed in the country to host the tournament for a second time.
The 2013 tournament was taking place on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the African Union (AU).
"Fifty years ago, the Organisation of African Unity was founded with the cardinal objective of promoting the unity, solidarity and co-operation of African States to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa," Zuma said.
"Fifty years on, the OAU successor, the African Union, is bringing African nations and multiple generations of Africans together to raise Africa's profile on the global stage."
He said the tournament would offer a chance to pay tribute to the generation of Pan-Africanists who set the continent on its path of liberation. It would also bring nations together as envisaged by the AU's founding fathers.
Zuma said the South African government and public were ready to host the tournament, starting on January 19, 2013.
South Africa would face Cape Verde in the opening match in Johannesburg.
Bafana Bafana, one of four seeded teams, were included in Group A with 2010 hosts Angola, 1976 champions Morocco, and Cape Verde, a small island nation off the west coast of Africa.
West African giants Ghana were drawn alongside Mali, Niger, and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Group B.
Title holders Zambia will face Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia in Group C.
Ivory Coast, seeded in Group D, are up against Tunisia, Algeria, and Togo.
The three-week tournament would be played at five stadiums -- FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, and the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.
Libya originally won the hosting rights, but the tournament was moved to South Africa due to political unrest in the north African country.
South Africa have hosted the tournament once before, in 1996, when Bafana Bafana defeated Tunisia 2-0 in the final to lift their only Afcon title.