Afcon: Not-so-great expectations
As the continent counts down the hours to the 29th Africa Cup of Nations, some are still unsure about the details of the event or even when the tournament kicks off.
With a day left before the opening match between South Africa and Cape Verde, Nkosi Mbatha from Jeppestown said he would have loved to attend any of the games but “did not know where the tickets were sold”.
Of the people interviewed, two were uncertain when the first match was. A group of men debated among themselves if it was today or Saturday.
Anoop Kapitan of Crosby said that although he constantly watches sports channels, seeing Afcon advertisements on TV did not motivate him to buy tickets.
“It does not register in my mind that I should buy tickets because the ads haven’t been emphatically presented to the public,” he said.
The build-up to the tournament has not “been that great,” according to Ishmael Mbetse from Bassonia.
Mbetse, who has a ticket to the opening match, says as a soccer enthusiast he is disappointed about the lack of hype “especially since South Africa has established itself as the gateway for business growth in Africa”.
Although he hopes for the best as a patriotic citizen, Mbetse says he also remains worried about the national team’s prospects even though they moved up from 87th to 85th in the world rankings.
“Other sporting codes, government departments and companies did something to back Bafana during the Fifa Soccer World Cup, but it’s not happening now,” he added.
Despite faith in the national team having dwindled over the years, superfan Elhadji Diop from Senegal thinks South Africa will definitely win because its “standard of soccer has improved”.
Westbury resident Carmen Plaaitjies said preparations for Afcon seemed to be low-key.
“I think they went all out (for the 2010 Fifa World Cup) because ‘tourists’ were coming to the country but now that we are hosting Africans it’s not that big a deal,” she said.
However, South African Patrick Ukpeli, originally from Nigeria, thinks preparations are going according to plan.
He believes Afcon cannot be compared to the World Cup because preparations are different.
“The difference will be the influx of people coming into the country and going to see the matches live,” he said.
During the 2010 Fifa World Cup Johannesburg’s inner city was a hub for fan gear and souvenirs. But this year Sharda Kassim, a shop owner in the CBD, said there was no hype around the event and this was evident in the low sales she has made.
“We had things like scarfs, side-mirror covers, flags and beanies for different countries during the World Cup but there’s nothing at all now,” said Kassim.
She has even resorted to buying flag stickers and sticking them onto the vuvuzelas.
“I’m going to put out a table with flags and vuvuzelas to see if I can at least make a sale before the opening game,” she said.