So United will play Kaizer Chiefs in the Vodacom Challenge final.
In truth, it’s what most people expected. The Chiefs made the Reds fight hard for a draw last weekend in Cape Town and proved too strong for Orlando Pirates on Thursday night. Sir Alex will be anticipating another tough contest… in more ways than one.
The Chiefs like to put themselves about, but as Wayne Rooney said yesterday at the team hotel, it’s probably for the best. After all, the lads don’t want these pre-season games to be too friendly.
Here in Johannesburg, a 45-minute drive from Loftus Stadium, the Chiefs rule the roost. They’re the best supported team in South Africa and their fans will surely make themselves heard on Saturday. We've already seen how passionate South African crowds can be.
United trained at the ground this morning, beginning with some light running with fitness coach Tony Strudwick before breaking into two groups to play keep-ball in boxes (seven players form a circle and try to keep the ball away from the two inside). Meanwhile, goalkeeper coach Richard Hartis put Tomasz Kuszczak and Ben Amos through their paces.
An eight v eight match and some shooting followed, with youngsters Tom Cleverley, Rodrigo Possebon and Craig Cathcart all impressing. The trio flew into South Africa yesterday and will certainly see some time on the pitch – if not on Saturday then on Sunday in Nigeria when United play Portsmouth. Two games in two days is a tough ask for any professional footballer, so expect Sir Alex to ring the changes.
This afternoon, the players will spread themselves around various events – some meet-and-greets, a coaching session, a Unicef visit to a facility specialising in HIV prevention. These sorts of activities are always a feature of Manchester United visits, and it's not just the fans who enjoy the chance to meet their heroes.