PRETORIA: Organising officials for the African Nations Cup are confident that the Opening Match on Saturday week in Johannesburg will be sold out.

This sort of sell-out is nothing to do with the ‘sell-out’ slang application to the matchfixing scandal whose shadow hangs over the South African Football Association.

Senior officials, including SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani, have been reinstated controversially while investigations continue into the outcome of friendly matches played in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup finals.

The opening Nations Cup tie is between Bafana Bafana and Cape Verde but fewer than 50,000 tickets have been sold thus far for the game in the National Stadium, formerly known as Soccer City.

LOC chief competitions officer Sipho Sithole insisted: “We have sold just over 300,000 tickets for the tournament, the majority of which were purchased by the host cities. Just over 45000 have been sold for the opening match. This is encouraging as many of the tickets were purchased in various parts of the country during the festive season holidays.

“We are confident the 500,000 tickets put aside for the tournament will be bought in the next few days; our people are excited about this tournament coming to South Africa.

“We also have people from other countries like Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tunisia, Algeria, Namibia, Ghana and other countries buying tickets.”

The SAFA staff suspensions were lifted last week by the executive committee which decided that an emergency commission had not possessed such powers.

SAFA chief executive Dennis Mumble was among the five even though he and head of security Mlungisi Ncane were the ones who had asked FIFA to investigate seven suspicious friendlies played in South Africa in the weeks ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

Mumble said: “I will ensure that we provide all the operational support necessary to ensure that those who have done wrong are appropriately disciplined.”

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said the government was fully behind the appointment of a judicial commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of the match-fixing scandal.

Nematandani said SAFA had referred the match-fixing report in its entirety – including asking for additional information from Fifa where necessary – to the appropriate Safa standing committees for analysis, action and appropriate recommendations to the NEC at its next meeting.

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