African Nations Championship (CHAN) in South Africa - More than half way into the 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in South Africa, organiser African Football Confederation (CAF) has expressed satisfaction with the level of organisation as well as the number of goals scored so far, which has set a record.
However, the African soccer's governing body has expressed optimism that more fans will attend the eight remaining matches at the tournament, a veiled reference to the not-too-impressive turnout of fans during the 24-match group stage that ended Wednesday.
CAF Secretary General Hicham El Amrani, who addressed the media in Cape Town Friday, hailed the level of play at the ongoing competition, in which 59 goals were scored in the first round, a record that eclipsed the 45 goals scored at the same stage of the 2nd edition of the tournament in Sudan in 2011.
'And, honestly, compared to the first and second editions, we have been very happy about the level of play. We have been satisfied about the new comers, we have witnessed great football from Burundi, Mauritania among others, from Mozambique, from Uganda, all those teams have exited from the first round,' he said.
The CAF official said the level of play by the so-called soccer minnows has shown the continuous narrowing in gap in African football among all the teams, especially because all the players at the CHAN are evolving within their national league.
'So, it just makes complete sense. But we are very happy about the level of play displayed and also the consideration now the federations are giving and the nations are giving to this tournament,' El Amrani said.
He said the reason for introducing the tournament had been achieved, as it had received FIFA recognition as a level 'A' tournament that was exposing African talents to international football.
CAF said it introduced the competition to help develop the national championships and also provide exposure to players in the domestic leagues, many of whom will ordinarily not feature in their nation's teams to the more prestigious Africa Cup of Nations.
PANA reports that the inaugural edition of the two-yearly tournament was held in Cote d'Ivoire in 2009 with eight teams while the 2nd edition was hosted by Sudan in 2011 with 16 teams, after CAF decided to increase the number of participating teams
As part of efforts to raise the profile of the tournament, CAF on Thursday announced mouth-watering cash prizes totalling US$3.25 million for the third edition of the two-yearly CHAN.
According to CAF, the winner will get US$750,000, runner up US$400,000, third and fourth place winners US$250,000 each and quarter-final losers US$175,000 each
Furthermore, the teams that finished third in each of the groups will receive US$125,000 each while the fourth-place team will each get US$100,000.