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World Cup: Uruguayan fans took the long way

June 13, 2010 |  5:24 am
Diego Lugano

Fans have certainly traveled farther to reach the World Cup than did Mario Sabah and his sons Ismael and Matias. But they'd be hard-pressed to match the Sabahs for adventure.

The family sent off from Montevideo, Uruguay, in February 2007 with the goal of driving around the world. They had made it through the Americas and Europe before arriving in Turkey, where they met up with Diego Lugano, the Uruguayan captain who was playing for Turkish club Fenerbahce.

"Lugano said that if Uruguay qualified for the World Cup, we must be there," Matias Sabah told Reuters. "We made a promise. We changed all our journey."

To reach South Africa, the Sabahs drove through Iran, Pakistan, Australia, East Timor and Indonesia before loading their blue Citroen Mehari and its trailer car on a ship to Durban, arriving in time for their team's scoreless tie with France in its World Cup opener Friday.

-- Kevin Baxter, in Pretoria, South Africa

Photo: Uruguay's Diego Lugano, right, with French striker Nicolas Anelka and Uruguay's goalkeeper Fernando Muslera on June 11, 2010, at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa.