CAF remain hopeful of reaching half-a-million ticket sales by the time the African Nations Cup commences. - Photo: Matthew Jordaan

CAF marketing and TV director Amr Shaheen said yesterday that the federation remains hopeful of reaching half-a-million ticket sales by the time the Africa Cup of Nations commences on Saturday.

Despite the lack of marketing and sluggish tickets sales which have only picked up recently, Shaheen seemed rather pleased with how the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and tournament sponsors have promoted the continental showpiece.

“The target was to sell half-a-million tickets before the tournament kicks off. What we have heard from the LOC, and we are very confident in the LOC, is that 400000 tickets have been sold. I think 400000 is a good figure.

“I cannot say I am not worried, because that would mean everything has gone 100percent and that’s not the case. So far, I can see that the LOC have put in a lot of effort. We appreciate what they have done. We work hand-in-hand as partners.”

While the lack of proper marketing has been a cause for concern, Shaheen feels it would have been a waste of money for sponsors and the LOC to promote the tournament during the festive season, when “South Africans are on a long holiday”.

“You guys (South Africans) have a long holiday, starting from 15 December until almost the beginning of January, so it would not have been successful if we promoted the tournament. And that reflected on the ticket sales. Before Christmas we had low rate of ticket sales, with less the 40000 ticket sales compared to the 400000 at this stage.

“Obviously the South African fans get more into action in the week leading up to the event. They would rather purchase tickets at the last minute, just before the games when the hype and interest is high. This has been studied quite well by our people and I think they planned it very well,” said Shaheen.

Shaheen is hoping ticket sales for games that do not involve the hosts will start to pick up. “We had a bad experience with the attendance of fans at the stadium in 1996 (when SA hosted). We give an open invitation to the local fans to be present at every single match.

“We have given everything from our side to make this happen. We went as far as leaving the LOC to decide on the ticket prices. We just gave them a target, to have the most attendance. If it’s cheap we don’t mind. We don’t mind that the tickets will be as affordable as possible.”