JOHANNESBURG, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- South Africa President Jacob Zuma on Saturday officially opened the 29th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament at the National Stadium in Soweto, south of Johannesburg.
At the opening ceremony, the South African national team Bafana Bafana played against the national team of Cape Verde at the National Stadium.
Cape Verde held the former champions to a goalless draw, dampening the host's dream to win the opening match.
South Africa will have to show marked improvement in their next Group A games against Angola and Morocco if they are to avoid a first round exit.
Before the game, Zuma held a welcome luncheon for the heads of states attending the AFCON ceremony.
Zuma said: "The infrastructure that we set in place in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament, most of which we continued to develop even beyond the event, has once more eased a great deal of the burden of preparations (for AFCON)."
"We are seeing dividends in the infrastructure investment we made before the 2010 World Cup, as these facilities will continue to benefit us and the continent in various ways in many years to come."
The 2012 AFCON was held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea jointly. The 2013 AFCON was supposed to be held in Libya but because of the turmoil in the country, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decided to move it to South Africa.
Zuma said even if Pretoria was given the assignment to host the tournament at short notice, his government will not let the continent down.
"Even though we therefore arranged to host it within a relatively short period compared to the previous tournaments, we remain confident and steadfast in our resolve not to let Africa down in delivering this important event," he said.
Zuma said the tournament will go a long way to contribute immensely in promoting Africa unity and friendship.
"The Africans are coming together from all over our beautiful continent to celebrate their Africanness and that is a wonderful occasion for us all," he said.
The tournament, Africa's biggest sports showpiece, will last until February 10.