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Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 19:58 GMT
Gaddafi's son in football international




Canadian athlete Ben Johnson and the son of Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi made an improbable pair of guests when a Libyan football team visted Uganda this week.

Al Saaidi Muamar Gaddafi - who is head of the Libyan Football Federation as well as the son the Libyan head of state - headed a 26-member squad which flew into Entebbe Airport near Kampala on Monday.

Fans, journalists, technical staff, security officials, and cooks brought the total on the chartered flight to 90 - including two more celebrities.



I want to be the best player in Africa after a year or two, God willing
Al Saaidi Muamar Gaddafi
Footballer Carlos Belado, who led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, was there to coach the Libyan team.

Fitness trainer

And Johnson - the former Olympic medallist brought down by a drug scandal - was there in his role as Gaddafi junior's personal fitness trainer.

Johnson told the local press that he is employed on a 90-day contract, for which he is being paid about $300,000 to $400,000.

He said his pupil was shaping up, though the fitness programme had been held back by Ramadaan, the Muslim month of fasting.

Last-minute appearance

The Libyan side met Ugandan club the Cranes on Wednesday.

The leader's son stayed out of the match in the first half, but ventured onto the field in the last 15 minutes - when, according to spectators, he made a "creditable" attempt at scoring a goal.

His efforts were in vain however, and the Ugandans won the match 3-2.

Ambitions

Al Saaidi Muamar Gaddafi has voiced ambitions to move onto greater things.

"I want to be the best player in Africa after a year or two, God willing," Cairo's Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper quoted him as saying last month.

In August he was involved in an altercation with Jordanian police when Libyan fans rioted during a semi-final at the Arab Games.

Celebrations

The match in Kampala was part of celebrations to mark the 14th anniversary of the present Ugandan Government.

A BBC correspondent in Kampala said the Libyans' participation was related to Tripoli's attempts to foster links with other African countries.

Libyan football has in the past suffered from the international sanctions imposed on the country, which included a ban on international flights.

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14 Jan 00 |  Cup Features
Africa's worrying soccer exodus

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