4th July, 2010
Former South African President Nelson Mandela yesterday met with Ghana’s Black Stars and gave the 2010 World Cup quarter finalists a ‘heroic’ send- forth as the team get set to travel home tomorrow.
An excited Ghana’s Minister of Youth and Sport Akua Dansua, who would accompany the Ghanaians home expressed deep satisfaction over the support they received from African fans, especially South African supporters throughout their campaign in the tournament.
Despite his condition, Mandela spared time to receive members of the Black Stars football team, their manager, coach and technical team at his house in Houghton yesterday.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesperson Sello Hatang, said the African icon was pleased with the performance of the Stars. The team had earlier met with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her family at her Soweto home.
Mandela had sent a letter wishing the squad well for their match against Uruguay on Friday night. Mandela said Ghana represented the continent well and praised them for making the continent proud. He bid them farewell, saying they could return home with their heads held high.
P.M.Sports gathered that the Ghanaian team would be visiting Soweto and Melrose Arch today at 15:00 Hours ahead of their flight back home. The team’s spokesperson Yusuf Abramjee said: “The Ghanaian contingent will go home on Monday, and considering their outstanding performances at South Africa 2010 World Cup, our minister and the consular want to give them a proper goodbye. They did the continent proud and itâ€™s only appropriate that we give them a good send-forthf”, he said.
Abramjee however urged South Africans to join in the farewell visit and “wave goodbye” to the team in Vilakazi Street, Soweto this afternoon at 14:00 hours. ”We will appreciate everyone coming for the send-forth party to put on the Ghana colours of green, red and yellow, that’ll be colourful and will give Ghana and Africa a good image”, he said.
Ghana lost their quarter final match 4-2 via penalty shootout to Uruguay at the Soccer City Stadium on Friday and missed a chance to advance to the semi final stage of the first FIFA World Cup to be staged in Africa.
Ghana however equalled the records of fellow Africans, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and Teranga Lions of Senegal, who also reached the last eight of the tournament back in Italia 1990 and France 1998 respectively.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles that reached the second round in their first appearance at USA 1994 World Cup and other African representatives; Ivory Coast, Algeria, Cameroon and hosts, Bafana Bafana of South Africa crahsed out in the first round of 2010 mundial.
Meanwhile, Uruguay play Netherlands in the first semi final in Cape Town on Tuesday, while Germany and Spain clash in an all European second semi final in Durban on Wednesday.
By Tunde Oyedele, Johannesburg