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July 22, 2012

Manchester United in Cape Town: What a match!

A Manchester United supporter enjoys some banter with his friend, an Ajax Cape Town supporter. Photo by Roy Barford

Yesterday's 1-1 draw between Manchester United and Ajax Cape Town was possibly the most exciting game of football played at Cape Town Stadium so far and the fans got full value for money, despite having to endure a fair amount of rain. 

Ajax looked the better team for much of the match and when Alcardo Van Graan back-heeled the ball into the net with just four minutes left in the game, it looked like a massive upset was about to take place. The experience and class of Manchester United, also known as the Red Devils, however, proved too much and Bebe secured the equaliser in the nick of time. 

Cape Town Stadium has a capacity of 55 000 and there were very few empty seats as local and international football fans braved the rain and cold. For many residents who support both Ajax Cape Town and Manchester United, it was difficult to decide on allegiance for the day and it was fairly amusing seeing thousands of people in red Manchester United jerseys celebrating Van Graan's goal and Bebe's a few minutes later. Very rarely is a draw a satisfactory result for supporters, but I'd say yesterday was an exception.

The video below, courtesy of FootballGhostTV, shows the goal scored by Van Graan to give Ajax the lead.

Alcardo Van Graan scores for Ajax Cape Town against Manchester United, at Cape Town Stadium on June 21, 2012.

Last week Forbes announced Manchester United as the world's most valuable sports brand and when you consider the budget they have available, Ajax Cape Town can be very proud that they held them to a draw. Ajax are of course now pretty famous too, having featured in the 2012 blockbuster, Safe Housewhich starred Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington.

Manchester United go on the attack. Photo by Roy Barford

While it wasn't quite a full-strength Manchester United squad, a large number of frontline players took the field against Ajax, including Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, Javier Hernandez, Anderson, and of course, Bebe. There has been much hype surrounding the signing of Shinji Kagawa and Saturday's match was his debut for the Red Devils.

Manchester United's legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, was certainly impressed with the fight Ajax put up. According to Independent Online, he said: "Ajax’s tactics were very good, they pressed the ball and when they won the ball they counter-attacked well and gave us a lot of worrying moments. It was a competitive game and it's good we managed to get some game time, with no injuries. It was very satisfying for us.”

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