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'90 minutes for Mandela'
Brad Morgan

6 July 2007

A glittering line-up of past and present footballing greats - including the man many regard as the greatest of all time, Pele - has been put together to honour former South African president Nelson Mandela in the "90 Minutes for Mandela" match in Cape Town on 18 July, Mandela's 89th birthday.

In a statement issued this week, Fifa said the match, to be played at Newlands, would see an African XI tackling a World XI and feature the likes of former South African captain Lucas Radebe, three-time African footballer of the year Samuel Eto'o, former European player of the year Ruud Gullit, and former Spanish star Emilio Butragueno (also known as "The Vulture").

Eto'o, a brilliant performer for Barcelona and Cameroon, said being invited to play in the match was a great honour, describing Mandela as "a living symbol of the fight against all forms of racism and discrimination".

"I am deeply touched by the opportunity to meet this great man, whom I have always admired, and for me this will be a very important occasion," Eto'o said.

Apart from Radebe, the African XI will include two other former Bafana Bafana favourites in Mark Fish and Philemon "Chippa" Masinga.

Other African aces in the line-up include Abedi Pelé (Ghana), Rabah Madjer (Algeria), Kalusha Bwalya (Zambia) and Daniel Amokachi (Nigeria).

Christian Karembeu (France), Andoni Zubizarreta (Spain) and Wynton Rufer (New Zealand) are among those who will turn out for the World XI.

The complete line-ups are yet to be released. Fifa will also release details on the sale of tickets within the coming days on the organisation's website.

The proceeds from the clash will go to legacy programmes which use soccer to develop educational, health and social programmes among the young. The Nelson Mandela Foundation will help decide how and where the funds will be used.

The first Mandela Fifa match
It is not the first time that Fifa has honoured Mandela. World football's governing body first sanctioned a match in honour of Mandela in 1999, the year he stepped down as South Africa's president, when a "Mandela XI" took on a Fifa World XI in the Nelson Mandela Farewell Game at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

South African soccer great Jomo Sono - who went on to coach Bafana Bafana at the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan - coached the Mandela XI, while Englishman Roy Hodgson, then coach of Grasshoppers Zurich, took charge of Fifa's World XI.

The Mandela XI was packed with African soccer stars, including Lucas Radebe, Mark Fish, Celestine Babayaro, Samuel Osei-Kuffour, Kalusha Bwalya, Hossam Hassan, Benni McCarthy, Nwanko Kanu, Titi Camara and Shabani Nonda.

The Fifa World XI included Jorge Campos, Taribo West, Sigobert Song, Branco, Dunga, Thomas Haessler, Mustapha El-Hadji, Luis Hernandez, Viorel Molodovan, Murat Yakin, Lubomir Moravcik, Abedi Pele and Jean-Pierre Papin.

Playing in front of a crowd of 40 000 at Ellis Park, the teams went into half-time level at nil-nil.

Not long after the restart, Zambia's Kalusha Bwalya put the Mandela XI in the lead. This was short-lived, however, as German midfield dynamo Thomas Haessler replied within a minute - and 10 minutes later Slovakian striker Lubomir Moravcik netted to put his team in front.

It appeared the World XI was headed for victory, but Bwalya had other plans, grabbing his brace with the game into injury time to pull the Mandela XI level and force a 2-2 draw.

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Nelson Mandela holds the Fifa World Cup aloft seconds after South Africa was announced as the host nation for the 2010 Football World Cup (Photo: Fifa.com)

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