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Durban was abuzz with Monday night’s arrival of English soccer giants Manchester United at the King Shaka International Airport.
Their clash with local soccer club AmaZulu on Wednesday has excited Durban soccer fans who welcomed one of their favourite teams to the city.
Warwick Hospitality and Events spokesman John McCarthy confirmed that tickets to the game were sold out on Monday.
“We are expecting about 51 000 people for the game. The training session tickets were sold out over a week ago,” he said. “We were confident that the tickets would be sold out in Durban.”
The match will take place at Moses Mabhida stadium with kick-off at 8pm – coincidentally on Nelson Mandela’s birthday.
Alex Ferguson’s team will then clash with Premier Soccer League giants Ajax Cape Town at the Cape Town stadium at the weekend.
Tickets for the Durban game cost R150, R250 and R350.
The open training session, which is on Tuesday night from 7pm-8pm, cost R10 with 11 000 people expected to attend the session.
The 22-man Manchester United squad includes veterans and experienced players like captain Rio Ferdinand, midfielder Michael Carrick, midfielder Paul Scholes and striker Dimitar Berbatov, alongside a host of youngsters including strikers Federico Macheda and Javier Hernandez.
Fan favourites, winger Luís “Nani” Almeida, star striker Wayne Rooney and midfielder Ryan Giggs were left behind.
The match would also provide AmaZulu players an opportunity to be signed by Manchester United, spokesman Philani Mabaso said.
“Our camp is excited. Some of our players look up to Manchester United players and see them as role models,” he said.
Despite the game being a friendly match, Mabaso said his team wanted a win.
“We will play like its any other game, but we also need to make the game memorable.”
Moses Mabhida spokeswoman Lara McLeod said: “All checks on equipment and back-ups are completed and 100 percent functional. The pitch is 100 percent ready.”
She added that event security, the metro police, the SAPS, public order policing, the medical team and ushers were prepared for both the practice session on Tuesday and the game on Wednesday.
People attending the game should dress warmly as cold conditions were expected, Durban forecaster Mduduzi Mthembu warned.
“The weather will be warm during the day but it will get very cold at night. The minimum temperature will be 10ºC,” he said.
No rain was expected for the game and the wind would be gentle.
Motorists can expect road restrictions from 3.30pm on Tuesday, Metro police spokesman Eugene Msomi said.
“Umgeni Road and Suncoast Boulevard are among the roads that will be restricted to one lane,” he said.