Johannesburg — Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula has called on South Africans to continue to support the national team after Bafana Bafana drew against Cape Verde in yesterday's Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) opening match at National Stadium in Johannesburg.
"Let's go and support the team, this is not only about Bafana Bafana, is about the country's ability to deliver the tournament to millions of viewers," said Mbalula, addressing the media in Johannesburg on Sunday.
"Yesterday's game was just the beginning and we will not give up on them," he said.
Mbalula encouraged the national team to do better in the coming match on Wednesday. Bafana will play against Angola on January 23 before they play their last group stage match against Morocco on January 27 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
"Let them continue to fight and soldier on until to the end," he said.
The minister said government was pleased with the spectacle showcased in front of millions of Africans and the broader world community through good broadcast facilities, security services, health and occupational services, hospitality and other offerings from the country.
Mbalula announced that 70 220 spectators attended the opening ceremony and match despite the wet and chilly weather. The match was viewed by about six billion soccer fans across the world.
He reminded supporters to adhere to restrictions and not to bring umbrellas to the stadiums when it is raining.
"We would like to thank the public for the way they behaved and cooperated with the security and officials at the various venues leading to the stadium. We further appeal to the spectators in various host cities to also come on board and emulate the National Stadium razzmatazz," Mbalula said.
He thanked and congratulated the Afcon Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the sterling work they have done so far.
In today's Afcon fixture, the black stars of Ghana will lock horns against DR Congo at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth at 5pm.
The second Group B match will be an encounter between Mali and Niger at the same venue at 8pm.