When football stands between brothers

Friday June 18 2010

By Andrew Mwanguhya

For the sake of adrenaline and those that enjoy surprises that come with the beautiful game, Switzerland’s David versus Goliath spectacle over Spain mustn’t have disappointed. It was a welcome fusion into a tournament well famed for its firsts.
And the Honduras trio of the Palacios brothers being named in the side’s 23-man squad following Jerry’s call late Tuesday to replace injured Julio Cesar de Leon proves the never tournament firsts.

He joined Wilson and Johnny Palacios in South Africa and, albeit, only the former played part in Honduras’s 1-0 loss to Chile Wednesday, it was the first time three brothers had appeared together at the same tournament.

All three hail from the town of La Ceiba. Jerry, 29, turns out for Chinese club Hangzhou Greentown, Johnny, 24, plays for home outfit C.D Olimpia and Wilson, 26, features for English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.

Nonetheless, the more intriguing brother act comes in the shape and form of Kevin-Prince, 23, and 21-year-old Jerome Boateng. The two, midfielder and defender respectively, are born of different mothers and are Germans but their father, as the royal surname reminds us, is Ghanaian.

But as you’ve already witnessed, the duo, all former Germany U-21s, aren’t featuring for the same national side in South Africa. Portsmouth’s Kevin-Prince acquired dual nationality after losing hope of a place in the Europeans’ side and was part of the party as Ghana edged Serbia 1-0 Sunday. Jerome was on the Germans’ bench as Joachim Loew’s outfit outclassed Australia 4-0.

Now, as it turns out, Kevin-Prince is the man responsible for Michael Ballack not being in South Africa after that horrendous tackle on the German in the FA Cup final.
Ironically, the 23-year-old could provide more misery for the Germans as the Ghana Black Stars are in the same group. And next Wednesday should yield drama as Kevin-Prince sure will play part as the two sides square off in the group’s last game.

Should Hamburg’s Jerome get a nod from Loew, he’ll be trying to stop his brother. And what a fairytale it would be if Kevin-Prince, Ballack’s tormentor, has a hand in Ghana’s unlikely victory over Germany! The two brothers playing for different countries on the same pitch will reflect the changing patterns of migration and nationality, and a bag of emotions for both Boatengs and their family will surely prevail.
Abed Pele’s sons Rahim and Andre Ayew are also in the Ghana squad.

2 Ugandans, 2 countries
This edition is so rich with brother acts that we can go on and on. Ivorian siblings Kolo and young brother Yaya Toure will turn out for the West Africans against five-time champions Brazil on Sunday.

Previously, other brother acts have been closer to home than you think. Thirty-year-old Manfred Kizito has featured for Rwanda whilst his brother Nestroy turns out for Uganda, where they both hail from. Manfred was offered citizenship by Rwanda after he went to play club soccer at APR and Atraco.

In 1996, Jose Carlos Fernandes Vidigal played for home country Angola at the Nations Cup finals in South Africa and his brother Jose Luis Vidigal helped Portugal reach the Euro 2000 semi finals.

Not long ago, Olympique Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda played for France A in a goalless draw with home of origin DR Congo as his young brother Parfait kept a clean sheet the other end. It’s a global village we now live in, after all.