By Sean McGuire
Manchester United will kick off their summer in South Africa to play AmaZulu FC in Durban and Ajax Cape Town next month.
The first match against Amazulu will take place on 18th July where the South Africans will also be celebrating Mandela Day. This match will be played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban and the second match against Ajax Cape Town will be held at the Cape Town Stadium on 21 July. The matches will be sponsored by the country’s leading mobile operator MTN, who is United’s mobile telecommunications partner in Southern Africa and will form the MTN Football Invitational to highlight the aims of Mandela Day.
United chief executive David Gill said. “The training camp and matches in South Africa will be an important part of our preparations for the 2012/13 season and an excellent chance to renew our acquaintance with our loyal and enthusiastic fans in South Africa.”
“Everyone has fond memories of the visits there in 2006 and 2008 and, of course, of the exceptional organisation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.”
The Reds will then return to China for the first time in three years to compete in the Chevrolet China Cup against Shanghai Shenhua. This match will take place at the Shanghai Stadium on 25th July. China has been a favourite destination for Fergie’s warm-up games down the years and Manchester United are delighted to be returning there this summer.
David Gill said: “Our pre-season tour is an important process for the club as it allows us to prepare for the season ahead, as well as engage with our fans and partners in different markets. We had a fantastic amount support from our fans last time we played a pre-season game in China. We were overwhelmed by the passion and excitement generated by the fans who came out to support us and we hope many more join us again this year. This is the first time we will play for the Chevrolet China Cup and I think it marks a fantastic start to what we hope to be a long relationship with Chevrolet.”
United’s third port of call will be Scandanavia to play Vålerenga on 5th August 2012 at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, then a glamour tie against Barcelona in Gothenburg. The Red Devils have not visited Norway for a pre-season friendly since 2002.
Ex-United and Norway defender Ronny Johnsen said: “It’s fantastic news. The Scandinavian Supporters’ Club is by far the biggest in the world and United is by far the best supported club in Norway. I know this is big, big news for fans in this part of the world. There are so many United fans in Norway. It’s good news for everybody.”
United’s Euro 2012 stars will be given a rest after they return home form Poland and the Ukraine and are likely to miss the earlier tour dates, however the Reds are still expected to field a strong side in all of their pre-season friendlies. Sir Alex Ferguson is set to give his new signings Nick Powell and Shinji Kagawa their first taste of football in a Manchester United shirt together with any other new signings the United boss makes between now and the start of the tour.
South Africa – MTN Football Invitational
18th July 2012: AmaZulu FC v Manchester United (Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban)
21st July 2012: Ajax Cape Town v Manchester United (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
China – Chevrolet China Cup
25th July 2012: Shanghai Shenhua v Manchester United (Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai)
Norway – DHL Tour 2012
5th August 2012: Valerenga v Manchester United (Ullevaal Stadium, Oslo)
8th August 2012: Manchester United v Barcelona (Gothenburg)
By Sean McGuire
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