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Last Updated:  Sunday, 16 March, 2003, 09:32 GMT
Kenyans rule Castle Corner
By Thrasy Petropoulos
BBC Sport in Durban

For a while there was a suspicion that they were supporting a sometime melody queen.

But then the chanting started: "Twende twende Kenya".

Kenyan fans spell out their country's name in Durban
The students boast their spelling skills at Kingsmead

And eventually the K appeared.

Ironically, the only Kenyan in the group was the man holding that K.

The others - ENYA as they briefly were - were South Africans who had agreed to hold up the other letters.

Zahir Mirza, an electronics engineering undergraduate, had been mocked by his fellow students for supporting the country of his birth.

But as Kenya progressed first to the Super Sixes and then to the semi-finals of the tournament, the mockery turned to applause.

And now South Africans have turned their support to the only remaining African representatives at the World Cup.

It was in this spirit that Zahir painted his country's name - he lived in Mombassa, on the east coast of Kenya, before moving south five years ago to study at the University of Natal - on to five pieces of cardboard.

He came to Kingsmead with fellow student Mohammad Moorad and within minutes had seconded his neighbours into holding up his placards.

This has far exceeded everyone's expectations back home
Kenya fan Zahir Mirza

They got into the Swahili swing of things, too.

"Twende Twende Kenya" (Let's go Kenya), vied with "Hakuna Matata" (no problem) and "Kenya Sawa Sawa" (Kenya are the best) - until someone spoilt it with a prolonged rendition of "Warnie is a mummy's boy."

"This is Kenya corner," smiled Zahir, mimicking the famous Castle Corner of the ground, where supporters traditionally drink intoxicating quantities of the beer of that name.

"This has far exceeded everyone's expectations back home," he went on.

"I have been in contact with family and friends through email and they tell me that the popularity of the game has increased enormously.

"It is an amazing achievement for the country. It has put us on the map."

And then there is the change in tune of the South Africans.

"The other students have been amazing," he said. "At first they mocked us.

"When I told them that I was coming to this match they said that I was mad and that I would be back two-and-half-hours after the start.

"But since South Africa went out and they have seen that we have played decent cricket most of them have come round to supporting Kenya.

"You wait and see what will happen here for the semi-final against India.

"I'll be here for sure.

"Well, it's either that or an automation lecture."


SEE ALSO
Australia too good for brave Kenya
15 Mar 03 |  Photo Galleries
Full scorecard
16 Mar 03 |  World Cup
Have Your Say on Australia
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say
Have Your Say on Kenya
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say


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