Let the games begin: Zuma says SA is ready for Afcon

Even though South Africa arranged to host the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) in a short period of time it would not let Africa down, President Jacob Zuma said on Saturday.

"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," Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery.

"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."

Zuma was addressing heads of state attending the tournament at a luncheon at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg.

He said the preparations put in place for the 2010 soccer world cup had eased the burden for South Africa.

"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."

Zuma welcomed all the heads of state to the country and invited them and the fans to explore the country between games.

"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 … and may the best team win this afternoon, and obviously in my view, that should be my national squad, Bafana Bafana," Zuma said. – Sapa.

Follow the M&G's live blog Inside the Stadium to catch all the action from the continent's biggest soccer tournament.

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