South Africa is ready to host a successful 2013 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament, President Jacob Zuma said at the final draw for the 29th edition of Africa's biggest soccer festival at the International Convention Centre in Durban on Wednesday evening.
From 19 January to 10 February 2013, the world's eyes will once again be on South Africa as 16 of Africa's best footballing nations battle it out for the continental crown.
South Africa had a proud track record of hosting wonderful sporting events, Zuma said at Wednesday's draw, adding that the 2013 Afcon finals would "be a timely reflection on the legacy of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, which we hosted successfully with the support of the African continent."
Zuma extended his special congratulations to Cape Verde, who will be appearing in the tournament for the first time after eliminating one of the giants of African football, Cameroon, in the qualifiers. Zuma said the tournament would be a special occasion for South Africa as Bafana would be making a return after a four-year absence from the continental competition.
Zuma had earlier, during the draw, brought a sigh of relief to South Africans when he drew underdogs Cape Verde as Bafana's opening match opponents. The host team was drawn in Group A with Cape Verde, Morocco and Angola. These four teams will be based in Durban.
Group B, which will be based in Port Elizabeth, comprises Ghana, DRC, Niger and Mali.
Defending champions Zambia are in group C with Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. These teams will based in Mbombela, Mpumalanga. The "group of death", group D, comprises Ivory Coast, Togo, Algeria and Tunisia.
Afcon local organising committee (LOC) chairman Mwelo Nonkonyane gave an assurance to the Confederation of African Football, the 16 participating national teams, South Africans and the entire African continent that they would not let them down.
"We wish to assure the African football [fraternity] that we use football as a tool to uproot our people from the circles of poverty, war and diseases to promote peace in Africa.
"We can assure you that as you go home to start preparing for this tournament and come back to battle for this coveted trophy, you will find the LOC ready to deliver a seamless tournament," Nonkonyane said.
"We've put in place plans around team transport, training venues, team hotels, including team security and escort mechanisms, and spectator experience that will ensure that every single stadium has an offering that is unique."