28 January 2013

Uganda: Afcon - Fans Are Star Struck

Durban — YOU may have noticed that yesterday's Group A fixtures (Cape Verde-Angola and Morocco-South Africa) were both played at 8pm Ugandan time.

The same will happen for all the other group stage matches in the Orange Nations Cup and the reason is simple.

As annoying as it is for the fans in particular to travel or switch channels/stations back and forth just to monitor proceedings from all games, FIFA decided to implement the same time-policy for all final group matches to avoid any form of syndicate.

So a few teams have had to travel to other host cities, which normally brings its own geographical challenges.

Take, for instance today, unlike Niger and Ghana, who will compete their final duel at the Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth, both DR Congo and Mali have travelled to Durban for their final group fixture.

I don't look at the change of venues as bad. In fact, it will allow all locals a chance of watching at least some of the stars on parade at the tournament.

There has been a certain degree of madness shown by star-struck fans here already with security detail even doubled for a majority of the star-studded sides.

Fans star-struck

The buses carrying the teams to training sessions have had four extra outriders assigned to accompany them, besides two police patrol vehicles.

Accessing the Nigerian and Ivorian team hotels is as difficult as walking on water with notable players such as John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses (Nigeria), Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast) assigned personal security guards by their respective English Premiership clubs.

At the majestic Elangeni Hotel in Durban, where the hosts are accommodated, the entire 11th floor has been preserved for the team, with heavy security personnel placed in the receptions areas, outside the hotel, at the entrance to lifts and at various locations.

But the one thing I noticed on my visit there is that although the team's players were not barred from drinking alcohol during their tournament, they still behave professional.

There have been no rules per se, just an agreement that when they are in camp, they stay within camp and only when the coach gives them a break can they go out.

On Saturday, their wives and girlfriends were allowed to visit. The visits were though restricted to the lobbies and not players' rooms, where TVs', PlayStation, mini-DVD players, were set up to provide enough entertainment.

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