With only six days left before the first 2013 Africa Cup of Nations match in Rustenburg, the town was yesterday awash with tournament festivities aimed at boosting poor ticket sales.
Only 40 000 tickets had been sold for the Royal Bafokeng Stadium at the last count, and after yesterday’s poor turnout at the event to mobilise support for the tournament, the host city might need more than just last-minute event marketing to fill the stadium.
At the end of a day that started with a convoy led by an Afcon-branded bus to mines, shops and taxi ranks around Rustenburg, there were no more than 400 people in attendance at the colourful and vibrant event at the Olympia Stadium.
The festivities later escalated into what resembled a big celebration, but with just a few people in attendance, with music blaring from speakers.
It is understood the Afcon local organising committee had sent a delegation to Rustenburg to look at how ticket sales can be boosted.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula had to drive to Rustenburg shortly after accompanying President Jacob Zuma on his visit to the Bafana Bafana training camp at Soweto’s Orlando Stadium.
Mbalula urged Rustenburg communities to come out in numbers and fill the local stadium, which has hosted a number of games, including the big clash between the USA and England during the World Cup in 2010.
“Please go out and attend the matches played here in numbers. The best of the best are playing here, hence they’re dubbed ‘the group of death’,” Mbalula said.
“Go out and buy tickets. President Zuma has told Bafana Bafana that this is not just games, but war, and we don’t need softies but men who will go out there and fight.”
Mbalula also made an appeal to football lovers to desist from criticising the national team.
“Bafana Bafana have promised (Zuma) that they will go out there and fight. So let’s shut our mouths, sit back and enjoy the tournament. Let’s not criticise just yet.” - The Star