by (Metro Ezasegagasini)

2013 AFCON

All eyes on eThekwini

Nomvuzo Shabalala, eThekwini's deputy mayor, Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha, MEC for Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation and Vusi Mazibuko, head of the AFCON project office in Durban.
2013 AFCON TOURNAMENT4.jpg

KwaZulu-Natal and the eThekwini Municipality are ready to host the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations tournament (AFCON).

The City has rolled out the red carpet for the football heads from the length and breadth of the African continent, as it hosted the final draw of the 2013 AFCON at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre. The tournament is set to be a humdinger as the old wars’ horses have qualified.

The nations which will be battling it out to be the kings of Africa are South Africa, Cape Verde, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Mali, Tunisia, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Ethiopia, Angola, Togo, DR Congo, Burkina Faso and Algeria.

Feeling the beat at Africa’s feet, the Deputy Mayor of eThekwini, Nomvuzo Shabalala, said the draw was to show Africa that eThekwini is very much ready to host the tournament. She said the hosting of this tournament is in line with the city’s positioning as Africa’s sporting and events capital.

“The iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium has been prepared to host all the games that are scheduled to take place in the province. To ensure that the stadium is in the perfect condition to host the tournament, the world-class Desso System has been installed on the pitch. This system uses artificial fibres incorporated into the grass sward. It influences sward density and reduces wear. Since double headers will be played during the tournament, this will ensure that the pitch has capacity for high utilisation,” said Shabalala.

KZN Premier, Zweli Mkhize, said the role of sport in building social cohesion is well known.

“We are very pleased to open up our infrastructure that are part of the FIFA 2010 World Cup legacy. The tournament will build a lasting legacy for the people of KwaZulu-Natal. After this event we expect an increase in the number of people who will be coming back to invest in our City and the Province," Mkhize said.

The presence of the 16 nations is part of celebrating the new South Africa as most countries played a pivotal role in our country gaining its freedom. This is one province where you will literally find people who come from all over Africa,” said Mkhize.

The Vice President of the Confederation of African Football, Suketu Patel said they want to thank eThekwini for hosting a spectacular final draw and the South African government for agreeing to host the tournament under the circumstance.

“South Africa had limited time to prepare for the tournament but what we saw at the draw tonight was an indication of the readiness of the country to host the tournament. AFCON has grown and it is now the third sporting event in the world. We appeal to the local organising committee to involve people in filling up the stadiums,” said Patel.

The chairperson of the local organising committee board, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyane, said they were pleased that eThekwini did not lower the standards as the international community’s eyes and ears were upon us.

“They were waiting to see if we are going to lower the standard now that we are hosting the AFCON as compared to the 2010 World Cup,” said Nonkonyane.

For more information about the draw results you can visit www.durban.gov.za, or email: simphiwe.dlamini@durban.gov.za.

(METRO ezasegagasini)

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