South Africa’s Limpopo province is hoping to reap the benefits of their hosting of the 2018 COSAFA Cup from May 27-June 9, with an influx of visitors expected for the festival of football.
Entrance to matches at the three venues is free of charge, an added bonus for fans who can experience international football at a time when the calendar would be otherwise clear ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
It is also a chance for Limpopo to showcase its hospitality and first-class tourism sector that offers much in the way of entertainment for fans away from the pitch.
“This is a proud moment for our beautiful province as it will be hosting this regional championship for the first time in its history,” Limpopo MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture, Ms Onicca Moloi said.
“This opportunity comes at a perfect time when we celebrate the centenary of the founding father of our democratic country, Tata Nelson Mandela. For the COSAFA Cup 2018 we are expecting approximately 100 000 people from countries in the SADC region to come to our province.
“This presents us with an excellent opportunity to deepen our intercultural relations between our country and these 14 nations.
“Economic benefits that will accrue will benefit local restaurants, accommodation establishments, filling stations and major retailers, among others.
“Limpopo will therefore experience positive economic growth as a result,” Ms Moloi added.
The matches will be played at three venues – The New Peter Mokaba Stadium, which was built ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium across the road and the newly-refurbished Seshego Stadium, just to the north of Polokwane.
Here is a quick guide to the three venues:
PETER MOKABA STADIUM
The iconic facility was opened in 2010 and hosted the likes of Argentina, France and Mexico during the World Cup that year. It has been regularly used to host Premier Soccer League (PSL) matches down the years, including cup finals, while the South African national side has also played at the venue.
OLD PETER MOKABA STADIUM
The original stadium on the site in Polokwane, this is a multi-sport venue that has an athletics track and is considerably older, having been opened in 1976. It is the regular home of PSL side Baroka FC.
The venue has recently received an upgrade valued at some R9.7-million, with improvements to the dressing rooms, irrigation system, drainage system, stadium lights, parameter fence and turnstiles. These improvements were completed just last year.