Spurs will bring stars to SA

2011-05-17 12:52

Tottenham Hotspur will bring their strongest possible squad to South Africa in July for the pre-season Vodacom Challenge, according to the club’s executive director, Donna Cullen.

The English Premiership giants were confirmed today as the opponents of Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

This will be the third year that Spurs have participated in the tournament, having competed in 2003 and 2007.

This season’s Professional Footballers’ Association player of the season, Gareth Bale, is likely to be joined by teammates William Gallas, Rafael van der Vaart and Aaron Lennon, along with South Africans Steven Pienaar and Bongani Khumalo, in the Spurs squad.

They will not, however, be joined by the side’s manager, Harry Redknapp, on their whirlwind tour.

“Harry has a civil tax case that needs to be heard, and unless the court changes its schedule, he won’t be travelling,” Cullen said.

“We will be bringing our strongest squad and we will be here looking for good, strong competition before next season.

“That is exactly what will get from Pirates and Chiefs.”

There were injury concerns with Bale (ruptured ligaments) and Khumalo (broken metatarsal bone), but both will have recovered in time for pre-season training and are expected to make the trip.

This will be the first time the tournament has been staged since 2009 after it fell away last season because of the 2010 World Cup that was staged in South Africa.

“For us to secure a side of the quality of Spurs to take on our own giants shows the tremendous drawing power of the competition,” said Vodacom SA’s commercial executive director, Romeo Khumalo.

The competition kicks off on July 16, with Chiefs playing Spurs in Polokwane, before the visitors face Pirates in Nelspruit three days later.

The home teams, the Buccaneers and Amakhosi, will compete in the Soweto Derby in Port Elizabeth on July 21.

The winner from this fixture will play Spurs again in the final in Johannesburg on July 23.

Since the event’s inception in 1999, Pirates have won it twice while defending champions Chiefs have lifted the trophy five times.

St Eloi Lipopo and As Vita from the Democratic Republic of Congo won in 2002 and 2004, while Spurs were victorious in 2007 and Manchester United won in 2008.

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