Top government representation at Afcon 2013 opening


Minister Meriton (right) with President Zuma (centre) and Mr Patel 
During his stay in Johannesburg Mr Meriton, who is also the Minister for Social Affairs, Community Development and Sports, met South African President Jacob Zuma in the presence of another Seychellois, Suketu Patel, the first Vice-President of the Confederation of African Football (Caf).

Minister Meriton delivered a message from the Seychellois head of state to the South African leader, congratulating him and his country for hosting the Afcon football matches in South Africa.

South Africa had been due to host Africa's most important football tournament in 2017, but the date was moved forward to 2013 after political unrest in Libya, which was originally scheduled to host this year's event.

Though not present at the meeting, two other Seychellois featuring prominently at the competition are Eddie Maillet and Bernard Camille. Maillet is in South Africa in his capacity as Caf’s refereeing manager, a position he achieved last year.

As for referee Camille, he is making his debut in a competition of that level.
Seychelles Football Federation chairman Elvis Chetty will travel to South Africa for the final match and closing ceremony on February 10. He will then attend the Caf meeting which will take place after the tournament.

Minister Meriton joined sports ministers from across Africa, representatives of the Federation of International Football Associations (Fifa), Caf executive committee members and other invited guests at the colourful opening ceremony of Afcon 2013 in Soccer City and the opening games between the host nation’s Bafana Bafana and the Cape Verde Islands which ended in a goalless draw.

Minister Meriton and Mr Patel briefed President Zuma on sporting activities, especially football in Seychelles.

In fact Seychelles is looking towards South Africa as one of its partner countries for cooperation in youth and sports. This cooperation was on the agenda during the recent visit here of the South African Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who called on President Michel and held talks with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representatives of other ministries.

The finals of Afcon 2013 are taking place in South Africa until February 10. Also known as the Orange African Cup of Nations for sponsorship reasons, the tournament is organised under the patronage of Caf.

Sixteen teams are taking part in the finals over a period of 22 days. South Africa won the competition on home soil in 1996.

This year’s winners will qualify for the 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup in Brazil as Caf’s representatives. The next Afcon football tournament will be held in Libya in 2017.