Football supporters in Africa are hungry for more quality football and many of them cannot wait to make the trip to South Africa in five months time to witness history in the making.
As thousands of fans make their way home following a successful Africa Cup of Nations in Angola their attention has turned to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa.
Although initial support from the African continent was slow it has started to gain momentum with an increase in ticket applications during the third ticket sales phase which closed last month.
Dr Rafiu Oladibo of the African Football and Other Sport Supporters Union said African supporters were intent on changing people’s perception of Africa as a dangerous continent through their support of sport and particularly football during the World Cup.
“We are preaching peace through support,” he said. “We want the whole stadium to be full of African supporters during the World Cup. When Ghana is playing we want all Africans to support Ghana. When Nigeria play we want all Africans to support Nigeria. This goes on and on. It is important because we would like to see at least one or two of them playing in the knockout rounds and perhaps even in the final. We have to give a good account of ourselves.
Tens of thousands of football supporters turned up to watch Ghana take on eventual champions Egypt on Sunday at the newly built Stadium 11 de Novembro in the capital Luanda. Not only were they entertained by the action on the pitch but also by spectacular closing ceremony which matched any the world has seen before.
Nigerian fan Abiodun Akinyena agreed with Dr Oladiba.
“We want people from other continents to come to Africa. They will go home with happiness and tell everybody that Africa is a place you can go to and stay for the rest of your life.”
Oladiba was part of a large contingent of Nigerian fans who were in Luanda for the Africa Cup of Nations and who will also be travelling to South Africa for the World Cup.
“We came here to support our country and we will do the same when we get to South Africa. It is important for us that the team performs well when we are there. All of Africa is supporting South Africa. The World Cup is already a successful because it has shown that Africa is capable,” he said.
2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee Chief Executive Officer Dr Danny Jordaan said African football supporters were an integral part of the success of the World Cup.
“Football supporters from all over Africa will bring colour and excitement to the 2010 World Cup. This is the first time it will be held in Africa and how can we celebrate Africa’s success without Africa being present? We will welcome them and they will help us welcome the world to Africa.”
While South African’s made up 79 per cent of the 1.2 million applications during the third sales phase of the tournament their neighbours have also starting showing an increased interest in purchasing tickets with Botswana (2,519) Mozambique (1,795) and Namibia (1,191) showing the greatest interest so far.