With the Perth Glory touring party having safely touched down in South Africa on Saturday, the focus now turns to the three games they will play during their two-week stay in the Republic.
With the Perth Glory touring party having safely touched down in South Africa on Saturday, the focus now turns to the three games they will play during their two-week stay in the Republic. So who will Alistair Edwards' side be facing and what can they expect as they continue their preparations for the 2013- 2014 Hyundai A-League season?
MP Black Aces v Perth Glory Nelspruit Thursday 25th July 2013
First up, the men in purple will lock horns with MP Black Aces at the splendidly-appointed Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit. The 2010 World Cup venue will be familiar to many of the travelling party as Glory played all three of their games there during last year's tour, but this will be the first time they have tackled the Black Aces. Based in the Highveld city of Witbank, the Mpumalanga Black Aces to give them their full title, won promotion to South Africa's top flight ABSA Premiership last season and are set to get their 2013-2014 campaign underway on 2nd August when they host perennial title-contenders, Kaizer Chiefs. Currently coached by Clive Barker, the man who led the national side to their only African Nations Cup triumph back in 1996, the Aces have recently snapped up the Premiership's most-capped player in Calvin Marlin. The 37-year-old goalkeeper has made 16 appearances for Bafana Bafana, featuring at both the 2002 World Cup and 2006 African Nations Cup and also enjoyed domestic success with Ajax Cape Town, Supersport United and Mamelodi Sundowns. Other prominent players for Glory's tour-opening opponents include another South African international in Stanley Kgatla, one-time Blackburn Rovers striker Aleni Lebyane and left-back Paulo Angelo Loureiro who last season helped FC Pacos de Ferreira secure third-place in the Portuguese Primeira Liga behind Porto and Benfica.
University of Pretoria FC v Perth Glory Pretoria Sunday 28th July 2013
Formed in 2002, the University of Pretoria side is more popularly known as Tuks FC and after winning promotion to the ABSA Premiership in 2012, secured a creditable 8th-place finish last season. Tuks play their home games in the Hatfield suburb of the nation's capital and have been coached since 2008 by former SuperSport United player Steve Barker, nephew of Black Aces boss Clive. The club has a strong track record for producing homegrown players through its development academy and having also used the loan system to good effect last term, is again expected to hold its own in the top flight during the upcoming campaign. Glory will need to be aware of highly-rated midfielder Buhle Mkhwanazi who was named in the most recent South Africa squad, while Tuks' main goal threat will be provided by Bongani Zungu who is expected to step up after last season's ten-goal top-scorer Mame Diang was snapped up by Supersport United. Skipper Tebogo Monyai is another of Tuks' Bafana Bafana representatives and they can also call upon wily veteran midfielder Dipsy Selolwane who served both Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake with distinction during a five-season stint in America's Major League Soccer.
SuperSport United v Perth Glory Johannesburg Wednesday 31st July 2013
The final game of the tour is shaping to be the toughest for Alistair Edwards' men as they take on a SuperSport United side that finished 6th in the ABSA Premiership last season and defeated English giants Manchester City 2-0 in a pre-season friendly played earlier this month. Nicknamed The Swanky Boys or Trendsetters, United were originally known as Pretoria City but changed to their current name in 1994 and have enjoyed unprecedented success in recent years, winning three consecutive Premiership titles between 2007 and 2010 and also taking out the Nedbank Cup, South Africa's equivalent of the FA Cup, in 2012. Unsurprisingly, their current squad is packed with South Africa internationals including Kermit Erasmus, who scored one of the goals against City, reliable defender Bevan Fransman and former Tuks midfielder George Maluleka. United's coach Cavin Johnson, meanwhile, will be very familiar with Glory having been in charge of Platinum Stars when the two sides met in Nelspruit during last year's tour. After guiding the unfancied Stars to a remarkable third-place league finish last season, Johnson was lured to Pretoria and has been tipped as a possible future coach of the national side.
Glory's Tour Squad: Jacob Burns, Jack Clisby, Matthew Davies, Jack Duncan, Cameron Edwards, Ryan Edwards, Dean Evans, Chris Harold, Scott Jamieson, Ndumba Makeche, Steven McGarry, Ryo Nagai, Brandon O'Neill, Steve Pantelidis, Harry O'Brien, Blamo QuaQua, Sidnei, Jamie Maclaren, Josh Risdon, Danny Vukovic, Riley Woodcock, Adrian Zahra
Major sponsor of the Perth Glory tour of South Africa is African mining company Kaboko Mining Limited, with support also coming from Perth Glory sponsor Europcar. During the tour the team will also engage in a number of community and schools based initiatives in conjunction with and on behalf of the Live2Learn Foundation.
Get the exclusive inside story of Perth Glory's 2013 South Africa Tour here at footballaustralia.com.au/perthglory