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Published on : Monday, February 4, 2013
Speaking at a gala dinner hosted by the City of Johannesburg’s Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau to welcome the CAF delegation and African representatives to the country on the eve of the tournament on Thursday night, Mbalula said he prayed for peace across the continent, especially in Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He said he hoped the tournament would inspire the youth to realise that this was Africa’s time and that the days when Africa was called a dark continent were over. ”Through football Africa could conquer the world. He expressed the wish that the 2014 Soccer World Cup could be won by an African country”, he said.
Mbalula said 16 African nations had descended on South Africa to show the world that they have the skills and flair to dominate world soccer, and that the onus was on them to live up to expectations.
“It is an honour to welcome you all on behalf of the South African government and to take part in this noble event. I request each and every country to support us to make this big event a memorable one. We have worked hard to ensure that this tournament becomes a success. This is the time to show the world that Africa has arrived,” the Minister said.
The dignitaries included CAF President Issa Hayatou and his executive, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyana, South African Football Association President Kirsten Nematandani, Local Organising Committee Chairman Mwelo Nonkonyana and Premier Soccer League Chairman Irvin Khoza.
In welcoming them, Executive Mayor Tau said the City of Joburg was honoured to host the opening and closing games of this prestigious tournament. He said AFCON 2013 should demonstrate this country’s capabilities to host such an enormous event.
“I urge everyone of you to unite to make this event a success. I also appeal to Joburg residents to show their hospitality by welcoming our African brothers and sisters to our country and making their stay an unforgettable one,” he said.