Johannesburg: Nelson Mandela met Ghana’s soccer team on Saturday following their defeat by Uruguay on penalties in the World Cup quarter-final.
The Mandela Foundation said Ghana, the only African team to reach the last eight at this year’s finals, had asked to meet Mandela to pass on their respects after his great-granddaughter Zenani Mandela, 13, died in a car crash last month.
Her death forced Mandela to cancel plans to attend the World Cup’s opening game between hosts South Africa and Mexico on June 11, dampening the mood at the start of the global spectacle.
“Nelson Mandela was introduced to members of the Black Stars football team and their manager, coach and technical team at his house in (Johannesburg),” the Foundation said in a statement. Former South African President Mandela, 91, had on Friday sent wishes of goodwill to Ghana ahead of their clash with Uruguay which the Black Stars, bidding to become the first African team to reach the last four, lost 4-2 in a shootout.
“They represented the continent well and although they did not qualify for the semi-finals they can return home with their heads held high,” the Mandela Foundation said.
It added that Ghana’s players and officials also separately met Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and other members of the family.