DURBAN 09-01-2013 Takuma the mascot of AFCON 2013 playing with Zinhle Ndlovu as they were doing the walk in the CBD of Durban. Picture: S'bonelo Ngcobo

Durban - The countdown to the Africa Cup of Nations kicked off in Durban on Wednesday with fans, eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo and other political heavyweights joining in the fun with a parade through Durban and a concert.

The South African Football Association’s Alpha Mchunu urged the public to buy tickets, saying sales had been slow.

“The 10-day countdown also marks the start of an intense campaign by local government to increase sales through mobile ticket sites at shopping centres, taxi ranks, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, the telephone and online,” he said.

The campaign was also aimed at rejuvenating South African patriotism through radio and television initiatives, he said.

Durban will be the base for the Angolan, Moroccan and Cape Verde teams, as well as Bafana Bafana.

Mike Mabuyakhulu, the MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, said the city could expect more than 60 000 visitors for the tournament – more if Bafana Bafana made it through to the quarter- and semi-finals to be held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

The stadium will host seven games. The Afcon tournament was meant to have taken place in Libya, but civil unrest in that country meant it was moved to South Africa. - The Mercury