Man City vow to go all out

2013-07-12 00:00

MANCHESTER City have arrived in South Africa and set up camp in Durban. The 2012/13 Premier League runners-up are in the country to play friendlies against SuperSport United in Pretoria on Sunday and AmaZulu in Durban on Thursday as part of Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday celebrations.

For the AmaZulu match, taking place on Mandela’s birthday on July 18, the atmosphere at Moses Mabhida Stadium is set to be electric, and no one is looking forward to it more than City club captain Vincent Kompany. The 27-year-old Belgian said yesterday that he has long considered Mandela his hero.

“I grew up in Europe, but it is like he [Mandela] has always been a part of my family,” Kompany said.

“I have read countless books on him and have shaped the way I lead my life around him.”

Kompany, on his first trip to South Africa, said he had always felt a very special allegiance to Africa and that he was thrilled by the fact that Mzansi had successfully hosted the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

“I think it was hugely important, not only for the country but for the continent,” he said.

Turning his attention to the current tour, City’s centre back assured the public that the matches against SuperSport and AmaZulu would be competitive.

“Once you get to know me, you understand that I am competitive even if I am playing a game of football in the parking lot,” he said. “It’s in the DNA. Once we take to the field and there are two sides in different colours, it will be competitive.”

A year ago Sir Alex Ferguson sat in Durban as Manchester United coach and told media that wresting the title back from City was his number one priority ahead of what would turn out to be his last season. A year later and City, under a new coach in Chilean Manuel Pellegrini, are in the same position as United were after being dethroned as champions of England.

“The Premier League is not an easy league and there are four or five clubs who are very strong,” Pellegrini said.

“But we have a very good squad and we are quite sure that we will have a successful season.”

The 59-year-old former Malaga, Villarreal and Real Madrid mentor suggested that success in the European Champions League was just as much of a priority as league success.

Midfielders David Silva and Jesus Navas are not with the squad as they continue to recover from Confederations Cup duty, but City have still brought over a group of players littered with superstars.

“Vincent’s [Kompany] monthly salary is bigger than my entire budget,” joked SuperSport United CEO Stanley Matthews.

When asked whether or not a young, promising South African player could ever find himself on City’s seemingly never-ending payroll, Pellegrini was diplomatic.

“The door is always open for young players to come here if they have the quality, whether they are from South Africa or Europe,” he said.

The team, staying at Umhlanga’s Beverly Hills Hotel, were due to have their first training session on South African soil yesterday afternoon.

They will leave for Pretoria tomorrow, play against SuperSport on Sunday and return to Durban after the match to prepare for AmaZulu.

An open training session at Moses Mabhida Stadium has been planned in for Wednesday at 7 pm, where members of the public will be allowed to attend.

As of yesterday afternoon, ticket sales for the Durban clash were “moving along nicely”, according to Matchworld’s Lyndon Barends.

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