THE 2014 African Nations Championships (Chan) to be staged here would be tough and all nations that made it through should expect better competition as the level of competition in the local leagues has improved, Local Organising Committee chief executive Mvuzo Mbebe said yesterday.
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Speaking on the Chan 2014 preparations after the official opening of the Soccerex Africa Forum, Mbebe said their aim, and that of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) was to make the competition reach the levels of the Africa Cup of Nations.
“The level of play will be higher in 2014 and really that will gauge the temperatures as far as development of the game has gone. In real football terms, this should be an indication in terms of talent, refereeing, medicine and coaching.
“We want to make sure that the tournament reaches the levels of Afcon as soon as possible and we hope the fans will respond to this as we build on the success of the 2013 Afcon finals.”
He added in a side interview after his presentation on whether the fans will surpass the 500 000 mark achieved at Afcon: “The fans will come, Zimbabwean fans will come even when they know Musona (Knowledge, Kaizer Chiefs star), is not playing, even when the big names from other countries are not there.”
Caf secretary-general Hicham El Amrani said figures from the 2013 Afcon finals showed increased attendances since the 2010 finals and was hopeful of a repeat.
“We are the only confederation that has such a tournament that recognises the local talent and we want the fans and the corporate world to support it. Once we have this kind of support then obviously the rewards that go to the winners will be bigger,” said the Caf official.
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Zimbabwe is part of the 16 nations that will take part in the third edition of the tournament after defeating Zambia 1-0 to make a third consecutive appearance, this time under new boss Ian Gorowa.
In the last two appearances in Ivory Coast and Sudan under Sunday Chidzambwa and Madinda Ndlovu respectively, the Warriors failed to make the quarterfinals of the tournament designed for players playing in their local leagues only.
The Warriors have been grouped against Morocco, Uganda and Burkina Faso and would be based at the Athlone Stadium in the Mother City, Cape Town.
The Soccerex event, now 18 years-old and having held 32 exhibitions in five countries, was opened by the South African Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation Gert Oosthuizen. It was also attended by MEC for the same ministry in Durban Ntombikayise Saphathe and the city’s deputy mayor NomvuzoTshabalala.
Soccerex is chaired by Tony Martin. Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League chief executive Kennedy Ndebele is also attending the event while chairman Twine Phiri was expected yesterday.
Leeds United and Bafana Bafana legend Lucas Radebe, former England and Liverpool star John Barnes shared the stage yesterday to talk about their experiences in English football.
The two-day event will continue today with various presentations on the contentious issue of club licencing, shaping the continent’s game, sport and government, broadcasting, league commercialisation and the launch of Africa’s first international academy.