Red Devils manager Sir Alex Ferguson was in attendance at Vodaworld, where he spoke of his pleasure at returning to the country his side last visited in 2006 to take on Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.
“It is great to be coming back,” he said. “We enjoyed our trip two years ago and look forward to bringing a strong squad here to challenge Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.”
That squad will be boosted by players from the British Isles after England, Scotland and Ireland all failed to qualify for the 2008 European Champions that will be held a month earlier in June.
That means the likes of Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick will be on show, but not Cristiano Ronaldo, who will in all likelihood represent Portugal at Euro 2008.
“It is such a shame England didn’t qualify,” Ferguson said with a wry smile. “But that means we will only be without five first team players for this year’s Vodacom Challenge. In 2006 we had 14 players missing.
“It was such a great experience for our youngsters in 2006, not just the football on the pitch, but the coaching clinics and what-not we did off the field. It gave them a chance to experience a fabulous country and a different environment than they are used to.”
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.