Family ties add dash to an already colourful World Cup

IN THEIR game against Spain the best thing everyone will remember about Honduras is the polished performance of the Spaniards.

But unlike the boys from Madrid, the Hondurans have their own history, albeit familial.

After calling up Jerry Palacios, 29, to their 2010 World Cup squad, Honduras achieved a rare feat - they are the first country in the history of the World Cup to select from one family ... not one, not two, but three brothers to their team!

Jerry, who ekes out a living scoring goals for Chinese side Hangzhou Greentown, joins brothers Johnny and Wilson in the national team of the politically unstable Central American country.

Johnny, 24, plays for local side Olimpia, while Wilson, 26, turns out for English giants Tottenham Hotspur. But if the trio are bound together by a stronger bond, spare a thought for the Boatengs - Kevin-Prince, 23, and his brother Jerome, 21 - who are not on speaking terms.

The two are in opposing camps; the older sibling, who plays for Portsmouth in England, is reportedly "persona non grata back in Germany since his brutal tackle on German captain Michael Ballack in the FA Cup final ruled the then Chelsea star out of the tournament".

Speaking about his own flesh and blood, Jerome is quoted as saying: "He remains my brother and I wish him the best, but at the moment we have nothing to say to each other. That happens in other families as well."

Jerome will make his English Premier League debut next season with Manchester City.

But other people in this World Cup, the first on African soil, have cosier relationships.

Mexican sensation and poster boy Giovani dos Santos cried his heart out when his brother was left out of the El Tri.

Those close to him say: "After learning his brother Jonathan was left off the World Cup roster, Giovani dos Santos apparently took the news hard."

"According to his father Zizinho, 'Gio' called his father in tears and said he no longer wanted to play in the World Cup."

If there are any tears in the Bradley household, they are of joy.

US coach Bob Bradley, aged 52, has come to count on his son, Michael, to score goals for the American team.

A highly decorated coach in the American league, he's been at the helm of university teams from the early 1970s.

His son Michael is in the books of Borussia Mönchengladbach in the German Bundesliga.

Football icon Diego Armando Maradona, who returns to the spotlight as Argentinian coach, has a potential son - a son-in-law - in Sergio Aguero, 20.

The Atletico Madrid ball juggler is romantically linked to Maradona's daughter Janina and the sound of wedding bells are said to be clanging nearer.

The "Indomitable Lions" of Cameroon were the first side to be knocked out of the 2010 World Cup. They brought to their campaign in South Africa an uncle and nephew in Rigobert and Alex Song. The hard-tackling Rigobert, who first kicked the ball in Cameroon's colours in the 1994 World Cup, was named in the 23-man squad alongside Alex Song, who plays for Arsenal.

They were apparently in the opposing camp inside the fractious Cameroon delegation that came here as part of the African "Six Pack".

Word is that '"after losing his father at the age of three, his cousin and fellow pro Rigobert Song took him under his wing".

Alex was married at 18.

Rigobert Song Bahanag has a much more colourful CV. Currently playing for Turkish Süper Lig club Trabzonspor, he comes from a long history of football - Trabzonspor, Metz, Salernitana, Liverpool , West Ham, Cologne, RC Lens, and Galatasaray.

Many fanatics would assume that an athlete participating in team sports with a sibling would perform at an optimum level. Sports psychologist, Greyling Viljoen, begs to differ.

"It's a fair assumption that a sportsman-woman would perform better because they play with a sibling but the truth is not necessarily so," said Viljoen.

On the contrary, Viljoen is of the opinion that sibling rivalry would be detrimental to the performance of both as one sibling would attempt to better the other, rather than keeping with the spirit of team play.

But he does acknowledge there are varied cases of siblings displaying great athletic feats as a result of having their siblings by their side.

Think of Venus and Serena Williams, who have dominated women's tennis for a decade now, as well as the Waugh brothers (Steve and Mark), whose devastating partnerships catapulted Australian cricket into world domination and adoration.

But in all these cases, notes Viljoen, the younger sibling will be an "adventurous risk-taker" as opposed to their older siblings who often display "calm and caution".

In the words of Jerry Palacios, who lost younger brother Edwin three years ago - even after the ransom was paid: "Everything I do in football is for Edwin. He is watching over me."

And we watch him play!

lAdditional reporting by Olebogeng Molatlhwa