President Sata attends the official opening of the 29th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)

Mr Sata

President Michael Sata this afternoon attended the official opening of the 29th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) at the national stadium in Johannesburg.

President Sata is in Johannesburg at the invitation of President Jacob Zuma to attend the official opening ceremony of the Orange AFCON.

He joined President of Gabon, Ali Bongo, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangiria, President of Cape Verde and host Jacob Zuma who officially opened the tournament.

President Sata arrived at Waterkloof Air Force base in Pretoria slightly after midday today and was immediately taken to Hyatt Regence Hotel in Johannesburg where he is lodging.

He later attended a luncheon hosted by President Zuma at the Radisson Blue hotel before going to National Stadium to attend the official opening ceremony of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.

At the luncheon, President Zuma said he was humbled that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had entrusted his country to host the 2013 AFCON after Libya failed to host due to the political instability that country.

“We will not let Africa down in hosting this tournament,” he said.

He wished all the participating countries the best of luck in the tournament and a safe stay in his country.

South Africa last hosted the AFCON tournament 17 years ago in 1996 and won the continental cup.

The official opening was followed by the first game of the tournament between host South Africa and tournament debutants Cape Verde which ended in a goalless draw.

President Sata is accompanied by First Lady Christine Kaseba, Minister of Sport, Chishimba Kambwili and Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations, George Chellah.

Tomorrow, President Sata will visit the Zambia National Soccer Team camp in Nelspruit.  He will return to Zambia on Monday, January 21st, 2013.

Zambia begins her defence of the continental trophy on Monday against Ethiopia before battling it out with other group mates Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

Other teams jostling for the trophy are South Africa, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Ghana, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Tunisia.

The rest are Central African Republic, Togo and Mali