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Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is on his first trip to Africa,taking in some World Cup games and visiting with scores of young football players

Written by Express News Service | Published: June 28, 2010 1:02:13 am

Kobe in SA,rooting for Brazil now

JOHANNESBURG: Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is on his first trip to Africa,taking in some World Cup games and visiting with scores of young football players at a new training center in the black township of Soweto. Bryant grew up playing football — as well as basketball — as a boy in Italy,and has been following the World Cup in South Africa. He saw the United States lose to Ghana on Saturday,but praised the Americans for giving a huge boost to football’s popularity back home. Now he wants to see Brazil play.

Vieira ready to call time

PARIS: Veteran midfielder Patrick Vieira is ready to end his international career after being left out of France’s disastrous World Cup squad. The 34-year-old Manchester City player was snubbed by coach Raymond Domenech. Vieira has played 107 times for France,winning the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship two years later.

Fan parks receive cold response

JOHANNESBURG: Cold weather and unpopular matches have been blamed for lower than expected attendances at some of the venues set up to allow fans without tickets in South Africa to watch the World Cup on big screens. More than 3 million fans worldwide have watched the World Cup so far at the 16 official FIFA fan parties — including six abroad in Rome,Paris,Berlin,Sydney,Mexico and Rio — but crowds at the colder inland venues in South Africa have dwindled. In 2006,the fan parks attracted 8 million visitors.

Plane lands on highway,fans safe

Johannesburg: A small aircraft carrying South African fans to the World Cup match between Germany and England has made an emergency landing on a major highway leading to the host city of Bloemfontein. Police superintendent Sam Makhele said there were no injuries among the six people aboard the plane or in the vehicles on the N1 highway that had to veer out of the plane’s way near midday Sunday. Makhele said the pilot of the plane,which was carrying a family group from the city of Benoni,had reported experiencing technical difficulties.

President’s prayers heard

RUSTENBURG: The president of Ghana led his nation’s soccer squad in prayers on Saturday shortly before they beat the United States 2-1. John Atta Mills spoke to the players in the dressing room,giving them a pep talk before they prayed together,Ghana Football Association vice-president Fred Pappoe said. “It made a lot of difference to the boys,” said Pappoe,who is also head of management for the Black Stars. “When he came to the dressing room,to see the boys,and to pep them up,it meant a lot. He said some prayers with the team just before they went on to the pitch and it made a difference.”

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