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South Africa @ Africa Cup of Nations Tournament

Tuesday 5 February, 2013

It was a big weekend for sports here in South Africa(SA), as SA is the host country for the Africa Cup of Nations “futbol” Tournament.  Durban is 1 of the venues, along with Johannesberg, Cape Town, etc., but Durban is the host for the group with the home country of South Africa.  I’ve attended 2 games & thought I’d describe the differences between attending major sporting events in South Africa & elsewhere from a business perspective.

1st of all, tickets weren’t readily available online.  You have to go to the local Spar supermarket to buy them, although the colleague who got tickets for me went to 2 other places, but couldn’t get them because their printers broke.  I understand there was a pre-sales period to acquire tickets, but I’m not sure how much of a manual or automated process it was.

Sponsors include some of the usual suspects, such as Orange-the wireless network provider, Pepsi & Doritos, Samsung, Standard Bank, & a few I haven’t seen before, Nàsuba express-a French language provider of debit & credit cards, Pan Atlantic ( I search for it & find nothing & their logo is on the AFCON website, there is no link), &  a real interesting 1 IFD Kapital, a Russian financial services firm-how/why they got there, I’ll never know.  If I were a sponsor, I’d be a bit upset-they don’t seem to be getting much for their money.  There is ample signage @ the stadium, but I don’t see much more.  I’m not watching on TV, but maybe they’re getting more publicity there.

Moses Mabhida Stadium is a cool place to watch a game.  The seats are covered, but it’s open air, so the players might get rained on, while the fans don’t.  There is actually a ride you can take up to the top, & I believe they do bungee-jumping from there as well.  I’ll let you know if/when I take the plunge, or just the ride.

Not much seems to be sold @ the games.  Tickets are relatively inexpensive, $10-12/ticket, but this is Africa, so that’s to be expected.  There are concesion stands which sell the standard food & drink, some which also sell beer.  It’s fairly inexpensive, $2.50 for a beer, 1/2 that for a soda. However there are no programs being sold & no vendors going out to the seats hawking their wares.

My colleagues told me these were some of the most exciting games seen here in a long, long time.  The crowd was buzzing for the last 1st round game against Morocco, because a win or tie got SA to the playoff rounds.  Morocco went up 1-0 in the 1st 11 minutes of the 1st 1/2.  SA tied it up before 1/2-time.  Morocco went up again with 20 minutes to play, while SA evened up again a few minutes later.  Horns were blasting the whole time.  I was told these were the biggest games for the national team in Durban for decades.  Bafana Bafana, the nickname given to the SA national futbol team as a term of endearment which means “the boys,” didn’t play in Durban the last time SA hosted the Cup of Nations tournament in 1996, when they won it all.  A big part of the buzz was because of how the boys came back.  It was an exciting evening.

Bafana Bafana advanced to the 1/4-final against Mali Saturday night @ 20:30.  Rather than starting out slowly as they did against Morocco, they stormed out quickly & took a 1-0 lead.  Unfortunately, they could not keep up the pace, & allowed Mali to tie it up in the 2nd 1/2.  Extra time went scoreless & Mali ended up winning on penalty kicks 3-1.  It was an unceremonious end to the season for SA.  Given what’s going on in Mali, maybe it’s kind of cool that fans can rally around thier futbol team.  There only seemed to be a few dozen fans @ the game.  They will play Nigeria in the semi-final in Durban-I wonder how full the stadium will be, now that the home team is no longer playing.  The final will be in Johannesberg on Sunday.

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