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Fly 28,160 km or drive 42 days: All part of the game

sports Updated: Jun 13, 2010 00:55 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

How far would you go to support your team in this World Cup? Ask Dave Barret, the Sabah family or three Portuguese friends who are all part of the 33rd team in the tournament — the visiting fans.

The Sabahs have driven from Uruguay because they had a promise to keep. They met Uruguay and Fenerbache centre-back Diego Lugano on May 26, 2009, and told him that they would travel to the World Cup if Uruguay qualifed.

When Uruguay beat Costa Rica to qualify, the Sabahs knew they had to make the trip. Father Mario, 54, and sons Ismael, 28, and Matias, 25, are now in Cape Town.

Also logging road miles is the Portuguese trio — Carlos Brum, Jorge Franco, Joaquim Batista — from Torre de Belem near Lisbon. They drove 42 days through 11 countries in a 1980 Mercedes Benz. The Inside 2010 Newsletter said the idea was Brum's, supported by hotelier Franco and landscaper Batista.

“Everyone likes football and people love Cristiano Ronaldo so it was easy to travel through all the countries… This is the longest trip I've done,” Brum said. Their car is complete with a two-bed sleeping area, shower and bathroom, kitchen and a dining-lounge area. All this is powered by a generator with back-up battery supply via the engine. They have travelled through Spain, France, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique to get here.

Some 500 years after a man from Portugal named Vasco da Gama passed the Cape of Good Hope, this intrepid bunch reached Magaliesburg where Portugal are based.

“The Portuguese are discoverers by nature and we are not scared to discover new places so if we have a few days after the tournament we will go to the Kruger Park as well,” Brum said. “If Portugal win the World Cup, we will undertake a celebratory road tour up the other side of Africa via Namibia, Angola, Cameroon, Nigeria, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania and out through Morocco.”

Barret's travelled 28,160km to get to Rustenburg. The Englishman works in New Zealand and as he was about to fly to Johannesburg, he was told his passport doesn't have a blank page, necessary for arrival in SA. He then flew to London, went to Petersborough, queued for three hours and got a new passport. He returned to London and flew to Jo’burg before travelling to Rustenburg where the Three Lions are camping. “It's cost me 5000 NZ dollars (Rs 1.6 lakh) but has been worth it,” Barret said.