The Bata football fans showed their support for the organization of the African Cup of Nations (CAN 2015) by filling to the brim the Nkoantoma Stadium at the opening of the championship on Saturday, January 17. The Head of State, in his opening speech, said that “our country is proud to host the African Cup of Nations, despite criticism from our enemies.” Other African presidents attended the historic event, which highlighted the massive public support: about forty thousand spectators attended the opening of the CAN at the Nkoantoma Stadium.
The opening ceremony was simple, without the large staging of 2012, but with the same or even more excitement. Traditional dances and local artists provided the soundtrack to the joy expressed by the nearly forty thousand people who covered the steps of Nkoantoma dressed in the red of the Nzalang Nacional.
The President of the Nation, H.E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, gave the welcoming speech to the public and participants in the championship, insisting on the satisfaction of the Equatorial Guinean people for being able to host a cup in their land, which otherwise might not have been held, after the rejection of other nations to do so for fear of Ebola: “Equatorial Guinea welcomes the African sports youth, modestly offering their contribution and hospitality. Our country is proud to host the 30th edition of the African Cup of Nations, despite criticism from our enemies.”
The President also recalled that the country has had less than two months to organize the championship and thanked the trust of the heads of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) “for having placed their trust in Equatorial Guinea.” The Head of State ended by wishing luck to all the winners. “May the best team win the cup,” said H.E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who received a long and excited applause from the stadium, which seemed ready to topple.
In addition to the Equatorial Guinean President, the inauguration was also attended by the Heads of State of Gabon, Ali-Ben Bongo Ondimba; Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso; the Acting President of Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza, and the President of Togo, among other great personalities of the continent and international institutions.
Precisely the heads of the CAF, who for weeks worked with the Equatorial Guinean institutions on the celebration of the CAN, awarded H.E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo an award unprecedented so far in the history of African football. This was the CAF Order of Merit Platinum Award, which is awarded to the President for his willingness to organize this tournament in Equatorial Guinean lands, after the great problem of holding it, once Morocco rejected it due to their fear of an Ebola infection.
The championship is being carried out in a normal manner, with the first matches of Group B being held on Sunday, January 18, at the new stadium of Ebebiyin.
Photos: RTVGE Bata
Equatorial Guinea’s Press and Information Office