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A case of seeing double

STUDIES
By | November 30th 2009

By Mike Owuor

The story of identical twins in schools and their mischief is so common and similar that I suspect some people just spin a yarn to earn the reputation of having witnessed the incidents of mistaken identity. An interesting one I was told involved John and James, pupils at a school in Siaya who were as identical as two peas.

James was supposedly the unbeatable marathoner but it was suspected his trick involved swapping places with his brother halfway through a race in deserted stretches of the course. John would join the race far ahead of the leading pack while James would wait for the opportune moment to drop out and hide behind a bush.

This winning combination crumbled during a crucial district championship when boys from a rival school abducted John and held him for the duration of the race. James, as usual, left after doing his part and only realised their strategy had been thrown off course at the end of the race. Frankly, I thought the tale sounded like one of those about the wise tortoise using trickery to beat hare in a race. Be that as it may, various sports have had their share of identical twins at the very top level. And, like James and John, their ability to confuse remains. Last month champions Manchester United appealed to the Football Association claiming mistaken identity in a booking during a Carling Cup match.

Mistaken identity

According to the Daily Mirror football website, mirrorfootball.co.uk, Fabio and Rafael Da Silva, the 19-year-old Brazilian twins who even manager Alex Ferguson admits having difficulty identifying, were involved in the game against Barnsley when Rafael fouled Jamal Campbell-Ryce. But referee Chris Foy booked Fabio, who was nearby. Man U appealed after the game saying they wanted the wrongly shown yellow card withdrawn.

This, though, will not stop Manchester United fans from singing the twins’ song, which can be found at www.redcafe.net. Here are a few lines: "Oh Da Silva twins - o a o/They both come from Brazil/their mum wasn’t on the pill/they both got curly hair/Don’t give them any lare…"

But if there ever was a pair of footballers I can never tell apart, it must be Dutchmen Frank and Ronald de Boer who have apparently formed the habit of playing for the same teams. They played for Barcelona (Spain), Ajax (Netherlands), Rangers (Scotland) and clubs in Qatar. But they are apparently not as indistinguishable as Zimbabwean twins Abel and Cain of Chapungu United. According to an article in the UK’s guardian.co.uk, their resemblance was so striking that one was always forced to stick a plaster on the face for easy identification.

Russia, too, relies on the twin defensive pillar of Alexei and Vasily Berezutsky, who began playing football at the age of eight and are now an integral part of CSKA Moscow. When asked about the most famous prank they have pulled in an interview published in fifa.com, they once swapped passports at the airport and had no trouble passing through.

My guess is that Mathare United twins Kennedy Ayong and Kevin Atto would pull off the same trick without stern faced immigration officials finding out.

Now, that’s double trouble.

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