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Johannesburg – SA Football Association (Safa) president Kirsten Nematandani has hailed the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) as a “resounding” success.
The three-week tournament ended on Sunday when Nigeria defeated surprise package Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final at the National Stadium.
“In terms of the size and behaviour of the crowds, standard of play, organisation, and general atmosphere, the tournament has set a benchmark for future Afcon tournaments,” Nematandani said in a statement on Monday.
“The atmosphere at the final was electric, and being beamed across the globe, again demonstrated Mzansi’s ability to host major tournaments.”
South Africa, who hosted the 2010 Fifa World Cup, filled in as Afcon hosts after Libya withdrew due to political turmoil in the north African country.
While Safa, the Confederation of African Football, and the local organising committee all proclaimed a successful tournament, the continental spectacle was not without controversy.
Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, which hosted eight matches, was slammed by players and coaches for the poor state of the pitch, which was covered in sand.
The field of the National Stadium was left patchy after American rock band the Red Hot Chilli Peppers performed at the venue eight days before the final.
Spectators, who complained in live television interviews just minutes before the final kicked off, claimed they were left stranded at the turnstiles as their tickets could not be scanned.
“It is important to acknowledge key stakeholders who made the event the success it was,” Nematandani said.
“This has to start with the State President, Honourable Jacob Zuma, Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula, and the South African government for giving this project their unqualified support.
“To CEO Mvuzo Mbebe and his Afcon team, I would like to extend my special thanks.
“It is also vital to acknowledge the contribution made by the volunteers and all of the fans who supported the event.”
Despite hosts Bafana Bafana being knocked out in the quarter-finals, Nematandani praised South African fans for their continued support of the tournament.
“As a nation we did a great job in creating a hosting environment that made all of Africa feel welcome.
“This morning I woke up as a proud South African, and am now looking forward to doing it all again in 2014 when South Africa hosts the African Nations Championships.” – Sapa