Whitecaps back from Africa

BOB MACKIN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

A stronger team is the legacy of the Vancouver Whitecaps' "soccer safari" to Tanzania, according to veteran striker Charles Gbeke.

The Whitecaps returned home from the March 6-18 training camp in East Africa where they battled to overcome the sizzling southern hemisphere summer heat. It became a bigger challenge when they played most of a 3-0 loss to Young Africans FC on March 9 shorthanded after a questionable obstruction red card to Tyrell Burgess in the second minute.

"I think they had to do anything to win," Gbeke said. "That red card was fishy, I don't think we deserved it."

The referee was fourth official when the Whitecaps edged Simba SC 2-1 on March 12 and not assigned to the scoreless tie with the Tanzania national team on March 14.

"For us it's not about results, it's about team bonding," said Gbeke, an Ivory Coast native. "Spending two weeks together brings the team together."

New Whitecaps' midfielder Ansu Toure said Tanzania rekindled memories of his childhood in Liberia. He was glad the club could give young residents of a Dar es Salaam orphanage a reason to smile by donating jerseys, balls, school supplies and tickets to the March 14 match.

"A lot of kids in Africa are going through that problem," Toure said.

The Whitecaps resume training Monday and meet the University of B.C. Thunderbirds in a Tuesday friendly. Regular season begins April 11.


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