Star-studded line-up for Mandela match

South Africans are in for a rare treat next month when a star-studded Fifa XI play a Nelson Mandela Invitation XI to bid farewell to the former president.

Fifa technical director Walter Gagg on Saturday announced a squad that included some of the game's great players.

Among those invited for the August 17 clash to be played at Ellis Park are French World Cup stars Laurent Blanc, Marcel Desailly and Youri Djorkaeff; Brazilians Cafu, Carlos Dunga and Roberto Carlos as well as Roberto Baggio of Italy and Argentina's Gabriel Batistuta.

The Fifa XI will be coached by Englishman Roy Hodgson, who played for Berea Park in the old national football league in the Seventies. The former Blackburn Rovers coach said he was honoured to be involved in such a match.

"I admire Mandela for what he has done for South Africa and I'm sure this time it will be easier to convince players to come to the match," he said, adding that he will trim the squad to 18 players.

Safa chief executive Raymond Hack said the Mandela invitation squad and the coach will be announced in two weeks' time.

"The squad will not be restricted to South Africans but will also include other players from the continent."

African Footballer of the Year Mustapha Hadji will, however, not be in the Mandela invitation squad as he has been included in the Fifa XI.

World Footballer of the Year Zinedine Zidane has not been invited because he is recovering from injury. Italian club Inter Milan are said to be reluctant to release Brazilian star Ronaldo.


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