22 January 2013

Uganda: Afcon - Testing Times for the Media

ITS just Day Three but the 2013 Orange Nations Cup match group stages are already testing the stamina of the media pack here.

Given that the opening fixtures between South Africa-Cape Verde and Morocco-Angola were played in Johannesburg and Sunday's double header involving Ghana-DR Congo and Mali-Niger in Port Elizabeth in the South, given that we still had to travel to Nelspruit for Zambia's date against Ethiopia, there are going to be a lot of tired media types traveling the length of this rainbow country.

I'm in Nelspruit now after a short flight from Port Elizabeth but will travel for approximately six hours to Rustenburg for what should be an explosive engagement between Ivory Coast and Togo today.

I was meant to watch the North African derby between Tunisia and Algeria before preparing for the trip to Durban but won't as that will prove hectic.

I would rather join a few of my South African colleagues for an early trip to the Moses Mabhida Stadium, where the hosts' fate will be decided.

A rough survey suggests few fans will make it to Durban as few believe in Bafana Bafana and most are projecting humiliation against Angola.

Khune dumped

To make matters worse, Bafana first choice goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was dumped by fiancée Minnie Dlamini yesterday for offside romps with ex-lover Samkelo Ndlovu and actress Lebogang Meme just months to their wedding day. "We are in a mess!" one fan lamented.

Only a quarter of the tickets for the games to be played at the Mabhida have been sold.

However, that has not affected the atmosphere as going to every match here sometimes feels more like going to a rock festival. Everybody is usually fantastically pleased to be there, and large sections of the crowd spend their time taking photos of their mates against the backdrop of the pitch-or posing with fans from other nations.

Most fans get to the stadium at least two hours early, to enjoy the drama, the warm-ups and the thudding music played over the PA, most of which have been South African hits.

Events at the Mbombela Stadium yesterday were no different. Ethiopians are here in their hundreds, surprisingly more than any side in the completion, just to enjoy the experience of a tournament that had eluded them for 30 years.

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