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12/07/2008 07:31, Report by Nick Coppack
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Blog: Fever pitch

Nick Coppack is the chosen one - the journalist who will join the United squad for an eleven-day adventure in Africa and blog daily for you, dear reader, on ManUtd.com. It might sound like a jolly glamorous jaunt but as our intrepid reporter writes here, his selfless sacrifices have started already...

Apparently I can look forward to exhibiting mild symptoms of Yellow Fever in the next few days.

"Aching muscles, an upset stomach… nothing too serious," smiled the nurse, after wielding the needle that should stop me contracting the real deal.

Oh well. It's a small price to pay for my opportunity to follow United through South Africa and Nigeria. And Yellow Fever is nothing compared to the Red Fever that's already gripped the two nations we'll visit.

As I write this, millions of fans are counting the days until they get to see their heroes in the flesh. Fourteen million in Nigeria alone (according to David Gill) - that's three times the entire population of Ireland. If every one of those supporters came to Old Trafford, they'd fill the ground more than 170 times.

Of course, we already know what United mean to the South African fans – we witnessed their passion in 2005. And don't think for one minute these fans aren't genuine, just because it's impractical for them to get to Old Trafford every weekend. I should know. I grew up even further away, in Australia.

For kick-off at 3pm in England, I'd have to set the alarm for 1am in Oz and tune my short-wave radio to the BBC World Service for crackly commentary on one featured match and updates from other grounds.


If the radio signal failed – and it often did – then the web was available, but not with the Match Tracker-type play-by-play analysis that exists now. "Live" online coverage meant