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The 25-day countdown to the 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN), Africa's largest football tournament, was officially set in motion during the Reconciliation Day celebrations on Monday, 16 December, 2013.
Both the CHAN opening and closing ceremonies will take place at the Cape Town Stadium, and the city will also serve as the tournament headquarters and Bafana Bafana's home base. The tournament takes place from 11 January to 1 February, 2014.
As part of the city's Reconciliation Day celebrations, the Executive Mayor, Alderman Patricia de Lille, was joined by the official CHAN mascot, Takuma, and former Bafana Bafana player Quinton Fortune to mark the official countdown to kick-off in January.
Quinton Fortune urged Capetonians to remember the gees of the 2010 FIFA World Cup - calling on them to rally behind Bafana Bafana once again for the forthcoming tournament and come out in their numbers to attend matches at venues including Athlone Stadium. He added that football is the spirit of Africa and it unites people from diverse backgrounds like no other sport. CHAN 2014 contributes greatly towards the development of football in Africa.
Sixteen African national teams
CHAN 2014 is the first major football tournament in Cape Town since the 2010 FIFA World Cup and will feature 16 African national teams, comprised exclusively of players from the domestic leagues, with matches to be played in Cape Town, Polokwane, and Mangaung.
"Cape Town is very proud to host the third African Championship of Nations and Capetonians are already dusting off their vuvuzelas, and getting ready to rally behind Bafana Bafana once again. Fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets before the Festive Season rush.
"Not only does CHAN 2014 take place in the 20th year of South Africa's democracy, but it will leave behind a very positive legacy for the people of Cape Town. Along with infrastructure improvements at Athlone Stadium, pitch improvements will also take place at training venues in Gugulethu, Khayelitsha and Belhar," said the city's Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, Councillor Grant Pascoe.