English Premiership champions Manchester United will once again square off against Premier Soccer League (PSL) giants Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs in the 2008 Vodacom Challenge championship.
The Red Devils will be looking to set the record straight after going down to Kaizer Chiefs on a penalty shootout during the final of the 2006 Vodacom Challenge.
Speaking at the launch of the off-season tournament on Tuesday in Midrand, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said he is going to bring the best available squad for the tournament.
The squad will be boosted by players from the British Isles after England, Scotland and Ireland all failed to qualify for the 2008 European championships, which will be held in June.
Ferguson said: ”All my top players will not be playing in the European championships, so they will come to South Africa. I don’t see a reason for them to be left behind. When we were here in 2006 we had 14 first-team players missing and this will not be the case this year.”
This means that the likes of Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick will feature in the tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to represent Portugal at Euro 2008 with Carlos Tevez representing Argentina in an international friendly.
”The challenge will also create a platform for many rising stars to elevate their level of play in order to strive to become regular members of the team’s starting line-up for the new English Premiership season,” said Ferguson.
Kaizer Chiefs chairperson Kaizer Motaung said the Vodacom Challenge also gives South Africa’s rising stars an opportunity to pit their talent against the world’s best. ”We look forward to seeing many rising stars taking advantage of the opportunity to make their mark at the highest level in this year’s tournament,” he said.
The tournament will still comprise four matches. Manchester United will play each of the local teams, who will then take on each other in a match to decide who will face Manchester United in the final.
United will play Chiefs in Cape Town on July 19 before taking on Pirates in Durban on July 22. The Soweto giants will clash in Port Elizabeth on July 24 to decide who advances to the final to meet the Red Devils on July 26 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.