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Lefty Shivambu

Afcon games have not drawn enough people to fill even half of the 48,000-seat Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.

Port Elizabeth – A tavern owner near Port Elizabeth's Afcon stadium on Thursday lamented how little the soccer tournament had done to boost business.

“I would have expected it to be packed here, but nothing going. It was dead. I'm a bit disappointed,” Charles Forlee, owner of Chalees Tavern, said.

His establishment is less than one kilometre from the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, venue of eight Africa Cup of Nations games.

“It's very ironic, the whole of South Africa, Africa in fact, are soccer mad people.”

Ghana, one of the favourites to lift the trophy, take on Cape Verde Islands in a quarterfinal clash on Saturday, but it is business as usual for locals.

None of the group stage matches managed to draw enough people to fill even half of the 48,000-seat stadium, built for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Ghana have played two of their matches in the “friendly city”, and Cape Verde one.

“This has not been as good as the World Cup, nothing as much as that. Business-wise, likewise,” Forlee said.

“There is an improvement from a normal day. Nothing to write home about. The atmosphere has been very mediocre, the only time you seem to know there's something going on, like a crowd of supporters, say Congo, for example. They come in a big group marching down here with their flag and their whistles and then there is a slight atmosphere.

“Once they pass, that's gone.”

Forlee said he was not optimistic about the knockout games bringing a change.

“We hoped so. We tried to set up an African atmosphere, having a braai out there (on the pavement), but it didn't help.”

The city will host its final match in the third/fourth place playoff on February 9. – Sapa


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