US gearing up for Mandela Challenge

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The Americans arrived in Europe yesterday to prepare for their international friendly against Switzerland next Wednesday, the same day that Bafana will be playing Italy across the border in Sienna.

After that, they will return home to begin preparations for the Mandela Challenge.

The US squad currently in Europe contains eight players from the 2007 Gold Cup championship team, led by team captain Carlos Bocanegra and Glasgow Rangers’ midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, who netted three goals in the tournament.

Bocanegra’s Fulham teammate, Clint Dempsey, who scored in the USA’s thrilling 4-2 loss to Brazil last month in Chicago, along with Derby County midfielder Eddie Lewis and Reading FC goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann are also back in action.

Lewis and Hahnemann will be in the squad for the first time since the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Lewis with 73 appearances for the United States, including starts in two matches in Germany in the summer of 2006, is the most capped player in the side.

Tickets for the Mandela Challenge, set for Ellis Park Stadium on November 17, will not be on sale at the venue on match day.

The 13th edition of international showpiece which is being sponsored this year by Royal Bafokeng Holdings, will kick off at 15h30.

Match tickets are on sale at Shoprite, Checkers, Checkers Hyper or Computicket outlets at a cost of R50 (Grand Stand) and R30 (Open Stand) and fans are being urged to purchase their tickets well in advance.

The Americans, who will be visiting South Africa again officially in 2009 to contest the Confederations Cup, are currently placed 18th on the Fifa World rankings with Bafana Bafana 73rd.