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SA Masters lose to Italian Legends

The friendly was held as part of Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture day currently underway in Soweto.

FILE: FNB stadium pictured in Soweto, outside Johannesburg, on April 3, 2013. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - A Bafana Legends team has lost to an Italian Legends team in the first event of the Nelson Mandela Sports and Culture Day, which is currently underway in Soweto.

The South African Masters were beaten 2-0 by the Italian Legends in their friendly at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

The event is part of the Unite 4 Mandela campaign, which aims to bring together South Africans in celebration of Madiba's vision of sport as a unifying force in society.

Minutes after coming onto the field as a substitute, Shaun Bartlett launched a powerful shot just wide of the post. It was the Legend's best chance of the match.

Italy capitalised from a well-worked move down the side of the field and doubled their lead with a header from Emiliano Salvetti.

While the Bafana legends exhibited some exceptional ball skills on the field, a lack of pace and structured play cost them.

The next match will see Bafana Bafana take on Burkino Faso. This will be followed by the Springboks playing Argentina in the opening match of the Rugby Championship.

In what is seen as a first for sport in this country, both national teams for rugby and soccer face international opponents on the same day.

Bafana Bafana will take on Burkina Faso, and the Springboks will play Argentina in the opening match of the Rugby Championship.

A concert will also be held at the conclusion of the day featuring local and international artists such as Kurt Darren, Sahara and Salif Keita.

South Africans are already coming out in their numbers and are already filling out the stadium.

All proceeds from the event will go to the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital.

HONOUR AND PRIVILEGE

Meanwhile, South African pop star Elvis Blue said being part of the concert this evening is a privilege.

"It's one of those phone calls when you only say yes. It's a beautiful thing - rugby and soccer on the same field and lots of South Africans coming together to celebrate music and unity."

South African sporting leaders have also said today's event will be one of the highlights of their careers.

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said the team is honoured to contribute to the festivities.

"This is a fantastic occasion and no-one can in words express how we feel. We feel so honoured and so privileged just to be on the field and know we played in honour of his [Mandela's] legacy. It's a great feeling."

Bafana Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune said his team wants to make Madiba proud.

"We all want to play to win and it's very important we do that and make everyone in the country proud."

SPORT KEY IN NATION BUILDING

Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula on Friday said sport still plays a key role in nation building.

Mbalula was speaking at the Unite 4 Mandela gala dinner at the Sandton Convention Centre on Friday night.

The dinner was attended by sports stars, celebrities and public figures including former President FW de Klerk.

The event raised funds for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

Mbalula said South Africa is blessed to have a global icon like Madiba.

"The unite campaign, as a social equation campaign for the nation, is to say to us we've got everything in our hands to celebrate it. Madiba led from the front and we are blessed as South Africans."

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