Bafana, BaGhana in great reunion

2015-01-25 15:00

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“Do you remember me?” Ghana’s Jonathan Mensah asked a surprised Darren Keet when they met at Hotel de Mongomo last week.

“I actually don’t,” replied Keet, trying to figure out who the stranger in front of him was.

“Didn’t you play for the junior teams?” asked Mensah.

“Yes I did,” said Keet.

“I am Jonathan and I remember you from my days at Free State Stars. I remember you from those junior teams,” said Mensah.

This was a grand reunion of some sorts as former team-mates got together in Mongomo before the start of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

South Africa and Ghana are drawn in the same group and, as a result, Bafana and Black Stars players are sharing a hotel. This brought former and current team-mates together.

It was a great atmosphere as hugs and handshakes were the order of the day when the Bafana players arrived at the hotel and met their former team-mates.

Edwin Gyimah shook hands with his ­goalkeeper team-mate at Mpumalanga Black Aces, Jackson Mabokgwane, and his former companion at SuperSport United, Thuso Phala, while Fatau Dauda grinned widely when he saw his former team-mates from Orlando Pirates – Thabo Matlaba, Oupa Manyisa and Andile Jali.

Mensah exchanged hugs with Ayanda Gcaba and coach Owen da Gama who were at Stars when the Ghana defender was still playing for the Free State side.

But it was not about former team-mates only as hugs were extended to others whom they had crossed paths with in the PSL.

Although no one from his PSL team was there,

Mohamed Awal (Maritzburg United) also joined the party as he greeted Bafana players.

The reunion showed the other side of the sport – that football is about making friends across ­borders.

Dauda said they were disappointed when ­Bafana lost the Algeria game as they were rooting for the South Africans.

But he complimented Bafana for a good game and said they had left a mark in the tournament with their performance.

After both teams lost their opening matches – Bafana lost 3-1 to Algeria and Ghana were beaten 2-1 by Senegal – the two countries’ team staff were seen exchanging notes the next day as they ­reflected on their respective games.

They were probably trying to see what either had spotted as weaknesses in their opponents as Ghana played Algeria and Bafana played Senegal on Friday night.

But there won’t be such pleasantries on ­Tuesday when these two nations come up against each other in the last group match.

However, the rivalry will only last for 90 minutes on the field. After the game, the two sides will meet at the hotel again before saying their goodbyes to each other.

However the game turns out, their friendship will remain intact.

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