SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)

South Africa: Afcon Opening Ceremony Set to Dazzle

Johannesburg — The Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) has promised a dazzling, memorable opening ceremony tomorrow.

Afcon LOC chairperson Chief Mwelo Nonkonyane told SAnews at the launch of Football Friday in support of the African showpiece that people should expect the Afcon opening ceremony to be nothing less than exceptional.

"The opening ceremony will be purely African as performances by African artists will be the highlight of this glittering opening event which is planned to be memorable and I don't think anyone will dare miss it.

"I am quite certain that South Africans and other Africans in particular will be proud of the Afcon opening ceremony," he said.

The opening ceremony to be held at the National Stadium, outside Soweto tomorrow, will herald the start of the 2013 Afcon, which will kick-off with an opening match between South Africa and Cape Verde at 6pm at the same venue.

According to Nonkonyane, entertainment at the stadium will start at 1pm, while the official unveiling of the 2013 Afcon tournament will start at 4pm.

He said President Jacob Zuma, as well as other African Heads of State, FIFA and CAF leadership are also scheduled to be in attendance.

Nonkonyane said Bafana Bafana must win tomorrow and they must be the first ones to score.

"We want them (Bafana Bafana) to be the first one to score as we believe that their goal is going to propel all South Africans to rally behind the tournament. Our view is that the success of this tournament is the success of our own national team, so we want our national team to win tomorrow.

"Congratulations to Bafana Bafana in advance. As the Afcon LOC and all South Africans, we are fully behind them and I'm sure they are not going to disappoint us," he said.

Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula jokingly described Bafana's opponents Cape Verde as unpredictable and dangerous.

However, Mbalula said as the country had already earned the title of being a good host by organising a successful world cup, the country should use the Afcon tournament to defend the title of being a good host.

"The time has arrived. Afcon is here with us. The time for prediction is over. Let us all go out and support our team while they will be competing with the best teams from the continent," he said.

Mbalula's deputy Gert Oosthuizen said: "Bafana Bafana has the skills to outplay their opponents, I have no doubt that they will make us proud. As such we expect them to score goals and make the nation proud. We are are all behind them."

City of Johannesburg executive mayor Parks Tau said: "From our side, everything is ready; we even went to inspect the stadium - particularly because a new pitch was laid in preparations for the tournament.

"The city is ready in terms of transportation system for the soccer fans. In terms of safety and security -arrangements have been made. From our point of view, we are excited, as tickets for the opening match are sold out. We are are looking forward to a great tournament.

"We just want to wish Bafana Bafana well for this tournament."

South African Football Association (Safa) President Kirsten Nematandani said: "We've created the platform; the stage is there. Bafana players just have to go out and perform as everything is proving to be on their side. The nation is behind them."

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