Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Kobe takes in World Cup action


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JOHANNESBURG – On his first trip to Africa, basketball star Kobe Bryant looked very much at home yesterday – bantering with teen athletes in Soweto, using his trilingual skills with the World Cup Press corps, and displaying a keen knowledge of international football.Bryant, fresh off an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, grew up playing football as a boy in Italy and has never lost his affection for the game.His favourite player? Didier Drobga, the powerful forward of now-eliminated Ivory Coast.The team he admires? Brazil, which he hopes to watch against Chile today.“They have so much individual talent, but they play as a unit,” he said.“That’s beautiful to watch.”And his choice to win the World Cup? So far, so good. Bryant said he’d picked Germany –  4-1 winners over England yesterday – before the tournament.Bryant arrived in South Africa on Saturday, and attended the second-round match that evening in which Ghana eliminated the United States of America 2-1.“I’m proud of our guys,” Bryant said. “We had opportunities last night. We didn’t capitalise on them. Ghana did.”He said the United States team, with their gritty performances in the first round, had kindled an unprecedented degree of public interest in football among Americans.“I want to see the sport take off in America,” he said. “It’s a beautiful game and I think this is the first time it has really captured the imagination of the United States from the men’s perspective.” (AP)


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