Johannesburg - South Africa’s Sports Minister, Fikile Mbalula, has called on the country’s teeming football fans to take to their flags and vuvuzelas to welcome participating teams to the AFCON.
"I am urging all South Africans to come out any time from 12:00 to 13:00, armed with vuvuzelas, whistles, horns, flags and ululations and throw their support behind the Bafana Bafana,’’ Mbalula said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that South Africa would trade tackles with their Cape Verdean opponents in the opening match of the 2013 AFCON.
"Take your valuable lunch time from your busy schedule to blow a Vuvuzela in your Bafana Bafana jersey as we welcome the sons and daughters of Africa to the land of our forebears.
"The land of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Charlotte Maxeke and Hellen Joseph," Mbalula added.
He called on the country to unite in the same spirit, the way it did during the 2010 World Cup.
"Please let's show our pride and patriotism as we did in 2010, when the football frenzy of the World Cup hit our shores.
"The beat is truly and indeed within our African veins as we traverse with our troops wearing our Jerseys and hoisting our flag high and singing at the top of our voices," Mbalula said.
Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana skipper, Bongani Khumalo, believes that home support would play a crucial role if the hosts are to have a successful tournament.
"The atmosphere that South African supporters always created is world class and absolutely unbelievable.
"It can inspire every player to go beyond his potential, so coming to this game on Saturday with 90, 000 fans is very special.
"That is the advantage you have when you are playing on home soil; you have the fans right there with you every minute of the game," Khumalo said.
In the same vein, Head Coach, Gordon Igesund, stressed that the forthcoming tournament was motivation enough for the players to do well.
"Playing for your country in front of a full house, in the opening game of AFCON, is enough to push the players to deliver.
"Everybody is excited about that and they are jumping out of their skins to get onto the field. I believe they are ready for this," Igesund said.
He added that playing under pressure was part of the game.
"There is pressure for every single coach in this tournament, if there is a coach who tells you he is not under pressure, he is not telling the truth.
"However, it is the kind of pressure that we can handle, the type that is exciting.
"The type of pressure that stems from hosting the tournament and you want to do well and make the country proud," he added.