Villes & Stades
Edmonton Le stade du Commonwealth, 59 500 places
Montréal : Le Stade olympique, capacité 55 000 places
Ottawa : Le stade Frank Clair de Lansdowne Park, 28 826 places
Toronto : National Soccer Stadium, 20 000 places
Vancouver : Le stade Swangard, capacité 10 000 places
Victoria : Le Royal Athletic Park, 10 000 places
They called the game "90 Minutes for Mandela" - and the spirit was still willing as an assortment of former soccer stars and a couple who are still plying their trade played out a 3-3 draw between teams labelled an Africa XI and a World XI at Newlands on Thursday night.
And most pertinent, perhaps, in this Fifa-organised tribute to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 89th birthday was the fact that true champions hate losing and will play their hearts out to avoid this indignity - even when their legs and lungs are telling them otherwise.
Ultimately no one lost in what was a vacillating encounter in which players well into their 40s - and a couple older- demonstrated that skill and sporting acumen are, to some considerable degree, indelible qualities while giving the enthusiastic, jam-packed crowd a good deal to cheer about.
The game got off to a rousing start with former Chilean international Ivan Zamorano heading home a text book goal from a Ruud Gullit pass in the fifth minute and a bulky, but still nimble Abedi Pele equalising a mere three minutes later.
If there was an individual star in the game it would have to be 167-times capped Egyptian international Hossam Hassan, a relative youngster in this company at 40, who gave the Africa XI a 2-1 lead in the 31st minute - and put them ahead again in the 50th minute while making the score 3-2.
Ready for a rocking chair
Gullit, who demonstrated his cunning and tactical expertise by occupying the pitch over two different segments in order to regenerate his strength, made the score 2-2 a minute before halftime and Spanish substitute Julen Guerrero recorded the game’s final and appropriate goal in the 72nd minute to allow the World XI to save face.
Unshaven and looking as though he might be ready for a rocking chair, former Spanish goalkeeping great Zubi Zubizarreta confounded everyone with his agility and frustrated the Africa XI on numerous occasions.
And, ironically, in this parade of veterans, Barcelona’s youthful superstar of the moment, Samuel Eto’o, who scores goals with prolific consistency in the Spanish League, could make no impact against the Spanish goalkeeping star of yesteryear.
One disappointment - or was it a relief - was that Pele did not make an appearance as had been mooted - but nearing the age of 70, Brazil’s all-time great was characteristically too smart to fall foul to the temptation. Source : News24 - Johannesburg, 18/07/2007 23:04 - (SA)