The Mali team has wished former president Nelson Mandela well.
Coach Patrice Carteron said they had wished to pay Madiba a visit but realised it would be impossible. Instead, Carteron said they sent an autographed shirt to the 94-year-old former statesman.
“The players hold him in high regard and wished to see him but we were told it was impossible. We all wanted to say thank you to him for saving our soul and the players wanted to give him this message personally. But I think it is a good gesture to send a signed jersey because he means a lot to some of us, especially now that the country is going through a lot,” said the coach.
The South African government has pledged more than R90 million to curb the conflict in Mali.
Carteron said he was happy that the situation Mali was improving and hoped by the time they got home the political unrest would be something of the past.
“The news has been encouraging in the past two weeks and this is a good motivation for the players. I am surprised most people think this war has been going on for two weeks but it has been there over a year now.”