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Author : Jacob Zuma

Remarks by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the welcome luncheon for the Heads of States attending the Africa Cup of Nations Games

19 January 2013

Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Excellencies Prime Ministers,
Honourable Ministers of Sports,
AU Commission chairperson, Dr Dlamini-Zuma,
SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Salomao,
Deputy-Ministers of Sports present,
Esteemed guests,
Ladies and gentlemen

I am deeply honoured to once more welcome you, Your Excellencies, to our shores for yet another magnificent soccer spectacle, the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament that is kicking off this afternoon.

I must express deepest appreciation at my personal level and on behalf of our beloved country, at this yet another profound honour that the Confederation of African Football bestowed on South Africa to host this 29th continental tournament.

We are humbled by this unwavering trust in our ability as a country to stage this mighty continental soccer showcase successfully.

As all of us know, the country which had made a successful bid to host the 2013 AFCON was Libya.

But because of the political situation that prevailed for most of last year the Confederation of African Football decided to move it to this country.

We therefore accepted this responsibility and honour with deep gratitude, as it is a great privilege for us to host this feast of African football expertise.

Even though we therefore arranged to host it within a relatively short period compared to the previous tournaments, we remain confident and steadfast in our resolve not to let Africa down in delivering this important event.

Gabon and Equatorial Guinea jointly made us proud as the continent when they successfully hosted the 2012 AFCON tournament. We are determined to continue to raise the bar this year as well.

The infrastructure that we set in place in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament, most of which we continued to develop even beyond the event, has once more eased a great deal of the burden of preparations.

We are seeing dividends in the infrastructure investment we made before the 2010 World Cup, as these facilities will continue to benefit us and the continent in various ways in many years to come.

Excellencies,

We are humbled by your honouring our invitation to attend this tournament and believe that it will live up to the expectation of being a prelude to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Africa is yet to win the World Cup, or to exit at a very respectable stage in this tournament and this should be a springboard towards that goal.

Your presence here Excellencies is also an inspiration to us, and to the teams especially, to receive and carry the goodwill of their country`s leaders into the tournament.

We believe that the tournament will contribute immensely in promoting unity and friendship in the continent. The Africans are coming together from all over our beautiful continent to celebrate their Africanness and that is a wonderful occasion for us all.

I therefore am positive that this festive encounter will not only be limited to the soccer field. We invite our special guests the football fans to also explore our vast tourism landscape in-between games.

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the people of South Africa, I welcome you in this country. I trust that you will be treated to the best soccer spectacle humanly possible, starting from this afternoon`s opening game.

May this be yet another memorable event for all of you, Excellencies, and may the best team win this afternoon, and obviously in my view, that should be my national squad, Bafana Bafana!

I thank you!


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