Sri Lanka president to attend World Cup

April 25, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse will fly to Barbados to cheer the national team in the cricket World Cup final later this week, a senior aide said on Wednesday.

“It is almost certain that the president will leave on Thursday at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Barbados,” said Chandrapala Liyanage, a senior presidential aide.

Sri Lanka, World Cup champions in 1996, outclassed New Zealand by 81 runs in Tuesday’s semi-final in Jamaica.

Mahela Jayawardene’s men now await the winner of the other semi-final between world champions Australia and South Africa to determine their opponent in Saturday’s final.

“The president’s visit is to mark the appreciation of the efforts of the cricketers in reaching the final,” Liyanage said.

Sri Lanka Cricket, the local governing body, said a red carpet welcome awaited the team on their return, irrespective of the outcome of the final. The team will be paraded in an open motorcade from the airport to downtown Colombo for a congratulation ceremony.