South African Football Association (SAFA) president Kirsten Nematandani has hailed the country’s staging of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations as setting a benchmark for future editions of the tournament.
This year’s Cup of Nations drew to a close on Sunday as Nigeria defeated Burkina Faso 1-0 in Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium. Libya was originally due to host the tournament, only for it to be switched to South Africa in September 2011 amid security concerns. The Cup of Nations marked South Africa’s first major football tournament since it hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but the event faced criticism over poor attendances in Port Elizabeth and Rustenburg, along with substandard playing surfaces, especially in Nelspruit.
“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,” said Nematandani in a statement. “The atmosphere at the final was electric and being beamed across the globe, again demonstrated Mzansi’s ability to host major tournaments.”
The next edition of the Cup of Nations will be hosted by Morocco in 2015, while Libya is pencilled in to host the 2017 tournament that was originally due to be staged by South Africa. The Confederation of African Football’s decision to switch the 2013 tournament to South Africa also applied for Libya’s staging of the 2014 African Nations Championship, an event for locally-based footballers, with SAFA now awaiting its next major competition. Nematandani added: “As a nation we did a great job in creating a hosting environment that made all of Africa feel welcome. I am now looking forward to doing it all again in 2014 when South Africa hosts the African Nations Championship.”