South African soccer officials are rolling out the red carpet for soccer teams and African visitors for the African Nations Championship 2014 (Chan) tournament that kicks off on Saturday.
The local organising committee (LOC) said it was all systems go for the opening ceremony, which will be held at the Cape Town Stadium.
South Africa will play neighbouring Mozambique in the opening game, followed by the Mali versus Nigeria game.
The LCO’s Mvuso Mbele said the opening ceremony of any event usually sets the tone for what would follow.
“We have pulled out all the stops to ensure that Africa and the rest of the world experience one of the most memorable ceremonies in history,” he said.
“We urge everyone to join us at the Cape Town stadium as we celebrate Africa.”
South Africa was named as the host after Libya gave up the right to host the event because of the upheaval in the country at the time.
Libya will now organise the 2017 tournament, which had been due to take place in South Africa.
Cape Town will serve as the tournament’s headquarters and Bafana Bafana’s home base, in addition to hosting 16 of the championship’s 32 matches and staging the opening and closing ceremonies.
The tournament’s remaining matches will take place in Polokwane and Mangaung.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s national team couch, Gordon Igesund, said Bafana Bafana were ready for the opening match with Mozambique.
There was controversy on the team’s composition with some clubs holding on to big name players.
“I am very humbled by the support I got from people of South Africa and I also want to thank all clubs that released their players especially Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns considering their respective positions on the league log,” he said. “That was a huge sacrifice.”
Igesund said the team was going into the tournament with their spirits high knowing the country was behind them.
Teams from 16 African countries would compete in the tournament. The tournament would run until 1 February and features only local based players.