Bring back the trophy - Mandela''s message to Proteas

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Johannesburg, Feb 2 (PTI) Poor health may have left himbed-ridden but South Africa''s iconic former President NelsonMandela is eagerly looking forward to the cricket World Cup inthe sub-continent and has just one message for the Proteas --"bring back the trophy".

Even as his doctors expressed concern that the ailing92-year-old world icon was getting too many visitors to enablehim to recover properly, President Jacob Zuma spent over anhour with him at his home here yesterday.

Zuma had just returned from consecutive visits to theWorld Economic Forum in Davos and then the African Union inAddis Ababa.

Mandela is being treated for a respiratory ailment afterspending two days in hospital last week that sparked worldwideconcern over his health.

Zuma, while meeting the Proteas before their departurefor India, said that Mandela had asked him to convey themessage to the team.

"We will support you to the final until you bring thetrophy back and hand it over to President Nelson Mandela.

Cricket is a national asset and the nation is fully behind youas your victory is our victory," Zuma told the nationalcricket team at the presidential guesthouse in Pretoria.

"I met (Mandela) this morning and promised him that youwill do your best and make the nation proud. He supports youall the way, and will be watching the games as much aspossible on television," he said.

Smith, who also celebrated his 30th birthday on Tuesday,said the side has been left inspired by Mandela''s message.

Zuma said Mandela had "smiled broadly" when he spokeabout the Proteas: "He supports you all the way and will bewatching you."

"Go teach them a lesson...come back and hand over thetrophy to Mandela. I promised him this morning that you willbe doing your best and will make the country proud," Zumasaid.

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