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Home comforts

india Updated: Jun 18, 2010 02:06 IST
Soccer stars

Halal for the Algerians, beef liver for the Japanese, rice cakes for the North Koreans and tubs of caviar for any wandering WAGS [wives and girlfriends] — both the host nation South Africa and soccer team managements are ensuring players don’t feel pangs of homesickness.

Take the Algerian team, which is based in the four-star Mondazur Resort Estate hotel on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast. To make the Desert Foxes feel at home, they have installed their own chef to prepare halal meals at their World Cup headquarters 140 kilometres from Durban.

Said Elmare Kotze, the hotel’s general manager, “Our main focus is to ensure that the team experience a ‘home away from home’ feeling for the duration of their stay.”

England manager Fabio Capello may have slapped a ban on visiting WAGS, yet one resort is leaving nothing to chance in the event that one or two slip through the net.

England are based in Rustenburg, not far from the luxury golf and casino resort of Sun City, where Victoria Beckham, according to local media, is tipped to stay.

Nicolas Smalberger, chief executive of the five-star Palace of the Lost City hotel, assured any WAGS they wouldn’t go hungry. “We bought six extra tubs of caviar, at 8,000 rand (856 euros) a tub. We’ll probably order some more soon,” he told the Times.

Switzerland were in danger of going into battle on empty stomachs after their head cook suffered a broken hand in training in the kitchen. Thankfully for Ottmar Hitzfeld’s squad, Emil Bolli, whose cuisine adds a Mediterranean touch to hearty traditional Swiss fare, was given the all clear.

Beef liver is helping Japan’s World Cup squad prepare for matches at high altitude in South Africa. Beef liver is popular as a stamina builder and fatigue beater in everyday Japanese cuisine. “We serve liver from time to time by stir-frying it or cooking it Chinese style,” the team spokesman Ichirota Fukushi said.

As for North Korea’s footballers, they had a good luck charm backing them against their match against Brazil on Tuesday — sticky rice cakes. The team has brought its own chefs to South Africa and the players had eaten rice cakes as part of their last dinner before the match.