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Grandson: Mandela will make brief appearance

JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela will likely greet fans and players for 10 to 15 minutes at the World Cup opening ceremony before watching the rest of the game from home, his grandson said Tuesday.

"We believe that maybe before the game we could bring him to the game just to greet the players and greet the fans," Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela said.

Mandela, 91, was South Africa's president from 1994-99 after spending 27 years in prison during the apartheid system. He attended the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in Johannesburg, and any possible appearance during Friday's ceremony at Africa's first soccer World Cup would energize the nation.

There have been doubts Mandela would appear because of his advanced age. He was a key factor in South Africa's winning bid, but has made few public appearances in recent years.

His presence at the 1995 rugby final at Ellis Park, when South Africa surprisingly beat New Zealand after years of exile from international sport, was seen by many as the moment when South Africans were truly united.

ALTIDORE BACK: U.S. forward Jozy Altidore resumed full training, six days after spraining his right ankle in practice.

"I feel great. The ankle feels fine," Altidore said in comments relayed by the U.S. Soccer Federation. "It's a little sore, but I had no issues participating in all the exercises today."

Altidore, with nine goals in 25 international appearances, didn't play in Saturday's 3-1 exhibition win over Australia.

PORTUGAL STAR OUT: Another day, another top star knocked out of the World Cup. Tuesday it was Portugal wing Nani, ruled out with a shoulder injury sustained in training last week. Even without him, Portugal had little trouble dispatching Mozambique, 3-0, in its final World Cup warmup.

SPAIN SOARS: Fernando Torres scored in his return from knee surgery, Cesc Fabregas got a goal in his second game since breaking a leg, and host Spain won its 11th in a row, routing Poland 6-0 in an exhibition in Murcia. Andres Iniesta left in the 39th minute with an apparent right thigh strain. Iniesta, whose season for Barcelona was cut short when he tore a muscle in the same thigh in April, was expected to have medical scans today in Barcelona. Torres, who had right knee surgery April 18, replaced David Villa in the 66th minute and scored in the 76th.

BRAZIL THE PICK: Big shock here — Brazil is the team to beat in the World Cup, according to a global survey by the Nielsen Company. The survey found that 34 percent of respondents worldwide believe Brazil will win the title, with Argentina, England, Germany, and the United States tied for second at 9 percent. The numbers are based on 27,664 survey responses from 55 countries. The only region not to pick Brazil was North America, where 46 percent, including half of U.S.-based respondents, went for the Americans.

NETHERLANDS: Coach Bert van Marwijk said he has little hope Arjen Robben will be fit to face Denmark in the team's opener. Robben (hamstring) was hurt in Saturday's 6-1 exhibition win over Hungary.

HONDURAS: The government approved a work schedule that allows 200,000 public employees time off the job to watch the national team play during the tournament. The government has urged private enterprises to do the same.

BECKS ONLINE: Yahoo.com signed David Beckham to be part of its tournament coverage. Beckham will help promote the site, which will feature a David Beckham channel with commentary on soccer's biggest event. The English star and MLS player is out of the World Cup with a torn left Achilles' tendon.

ELSEWHERE: Former Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez will be the new coach for European Champions League winner Inter, club president Massimo Moratti said. Benitez replaces Jose Mourinho, who also led the Milan giant to its fifth straight league title plus the Italian Cup last season before leaving for Real Madrid.

Grandson: Mandela will make brief appearance 06/08/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 9:40pm]
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