JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 11, Bafana Bafana caoch Gordon Igesund and the players during the South African national soccer team photograph, training session and press conference at Orlando Stadium on January 11, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa Photo by Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

Tickets for Saturday’s opening Africa Cup of Nations clash between South Africa and Cape Verde are sold out – four days ahead of schedule.



By late yesterday, more than 80 000 tickets had been snatched up for the crunch fixture at the 94 700-seater National Stadium (the temporarily renamed FNB Stadium).



The sudden surge in sales for the opening fixture has not just given the organisers hope that they will reach their target of 500 000 ticket sales, but prompted the Afcon local organising committee (LOC) to increase the number of tickets available to the public.



“We are worried about the shortage of tickets. We now need to release the additional 4 000 tickets that were reserved for corporate (clients),” said LOC chief communications officer Sipho Sithole.



In other cities, ticket sales have been sluggish. Of particular concern are Rustenburg and Port Elizabeth, where just more than 40 000 tickets had been sold so far in each venue. Each of these venues hosts eight matches.



Despite this, the LOC remains optimistic that it will meet its 500 000 target.



By yesterday, just more than 400 000 tickets had been sold.



Buoyed by the sudden surge in ticket sales, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) gave South Africa’s organisation of the tournament the thumbs-up – after a spate of negative newspaper reports at the weekend.



“We are truly grateful and would like to thank the LOC for the amount of work they have done. We are delighted and look forward to an exciting event in this country,” said Caf general secretary Hicham El Amrani.



Transport concerns also appear to have been allayed. Fans intending going to the opening ceremony and opening match have a range of transport options, including free rides on Metrorail trains for valid match ticket-holders, park-and-ride arrangements and park-and-walk facilities, or a 20-minute bus ride from Soweto or the Joburg CBD.



For a R17 return ticket, fans can board a bus at any of the Rea Vaya stations or stops in Soweto and the Joburg inner city. All Rea Vaya feeder and complementary routes will be operational before and after the match. Fans using the feeder service will pay R9 extra for the return trip.



The City of Joburg has also set up a park-and-ride facility at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein, and one at the corner of Pat Mbatha Road and Anderson Street in the CBD. Fans can park their cars at the two venues, then catch a Rea Vaya bus to the stadium. Park-and-ride costs R30.



“Maximum travelling time for Rea Vaya is 20 minutes. The service will start operating four hours before the opening and closing ceremonies, and you should be back at your car one hour after the game has ended,” said City of Joburg spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane.



He said park-and-walk costs R50 per sedan vehicle, R100 per taxi and R400 for a bus. These facilities are in Aeroton and Shareworld, and parking tickets can be bought through Computicket.



The LOC and the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) announced an R18 million deal yesterday that would see trains and buses ferrying fans to and from match venues free of charge if they produce match tickets.



Prasa will make 20 trains available in Gauteng and 26 in KwaZulu-Natal.



Prasa spokesman Moffet Mofokeng said fans would need their match tickets to board trains to Nasrec station at the National Stadium.



Trains will run from Vereeniging, Naledi, Leralla, Daveyton, Katlehong, Springs, Randfontein, Pretoria, Mabopane, Mamelodi, Atteridgeville, and Park station and Westgate in the Joburg CBD.



Mofokeng said match ticketholders can park their cars at the station and board trains to the stadium, with guards watching their vehicles.



Trains will run from midday and the last train will be at the stadium an hour-and-a-half before kick-off.



“There will be a limited service after the Bafana Bafana match for those who will not stay for the second match between Angola and Morocco, while trains will operate fully again 30 minutes after the final whistle of the last match,” Mofokeng said.



Prasa and the City of Joburg have urged football fans to plan their trip to the stadium, and leave early in order to avoid congestion and long queues. - The Star