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Sunday Times STLive By PREGA GOVENDER, 2010-05-22

El Diego turns nose up at local loo

Argentina's national coach, Diego Maradona, will enjoy a royal flush from a state-of-the-art toilet seat when he visits the loo in South Africa - thanks to his country's football association.

The Argentine Football Association this week requested staff at the University of Pretoria's High Performance Centre - the team's base for the World Cup - to tear down the standard wash basins, toilet bowls and cisterns in the two bathrooms reserved for the football legend because they would not meet his "high standards".

The centre hastily replaced these on Thursday with fancy Eurosmart taps, basin mixers, dark wood vanity cabinets, and new toilet bowls, including a special bidet with two settings for Maradona's bedroom.

The Pretoria centre's chief operations officer, Colin Stier, said: "They felt that it (the basins and toilet bowls) were not up to Maradona's standards."

Felix Aguinaga, an architect from Argentina who has spent the past two weeks monitoring progress at the centre, confirmed that the association had made a "special request" for Maradona's bathrooms to be changed.

The association's other requests included painting the rooms white and buying six PlayStations for players to use during their free time.

The team' s dietary requirements, according to catering manager Linda Tyrrell, include:

  • Ten hot dishes a day as well as 14 different salads for every meal;
  • Three different pasta sauces with each meal and at least three puddings;
  • A braai once in three days; and
  • Ice cream to be available all day.

The Mexican team, whose home base will be the Thaba Ya Batswana lodge in southern Johannesburg, will bring their own priest to conduct church services in a church on the premises.

Kaka and his Brazilian teammates will be at The Fairway hotel. They need "hot hot coffee, hot hot coffee and hot hot coffee", a lot of cookies - and no chocolate, said the hotel's marketing assistant, Ariska van der Westhuizen.

They are bringing along two Portuguese chefs, but will not be "taking over the kitchen".

Van der Westhuizen said the Brazilians were "really easy in their dealings, not prima donnas". They did, however, ask that the pool be heated to exactly 32ºC and that it be covered.

The Italian team, who have indicated that they will be flying in tons of gym equipment, will also be bringing along their own pasta for their stay at the Leriba Lodge in Centurion.

Leriba Lodge chief executive Peet du Preez said a high-speed fibre-optic cable had been laid so that the team could watch Italian TV channels.

The New Zealand team, which has chosen to live in eight houses worth over R8-million each on the Serengeti golf estate near OR Tambo airport, would like some of their players to take golf lessons.

Only two items feature on the Slovakians' wish list - two table tennis tables and an electronic dartboard.

Ron Campbell, the general manager of the Villas Luxury Suite hotel in Arcadia, Pretoria, said the Slovakians would be bringing their own flour for a taste of home - dumplings.

The North Koreans had only two simple requests - Korean rice with all meals, and the exclusive use of an entire floor of the Protea hotel in Midrand.

Darren Lange, general manager of Fair City Roode Vallei, north of Pretoria, said the Ghanaian team had only one wish - to watch their favourite programmes on the Africa channel.

  • govenderp@sundaytimes.co.za