Africa for keeps: Heurelho Gomes of Tottenham Hotspur and Brazil
Tottenham’s Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes is heading to South Africa for a third successive summer, insisting on the club's home website: “Playing against Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs will be perfect preparation for the English Premier League season.”
Gomes came to the Rainbow Nation in 2009 as part of the Brazil squad for the Confederations Cup and was back last year as his nation reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
Now he prepares for the Vodacom Challenge against the treble winning champions the Buccaneers and Arsenal-like underachievers Chiefs: “South Africa is a great place to play football, the atmosphere is special, a lot different to other countries.
“First of all, the people are so friendly and they love the game as everyone knows from the World Cup.”
With Spurs set to play at World Cup venues in Polokwane, Nelspruit and Johannesburg’s Ellis Park, the Brazilian is ready for a return to the din of the vuvuzelas and grinned: “The stadiums are fantastic—South Africa did very well for the World Cup. The feeling for the game there is unbelievable. It’s a great atmosphere to play football in.
“I think it will be ideal preparation for us and we have to be ready for the start of the season.
Will Spurs crush Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates?
“We know it will be tougher than ever because everyone knows about Tottenham now and what we can do.”
Spurs plan to bring both their Bafana Bafana internationals, Steven Pienaar and Bongani Khumalo with them on safari. Pienaar arrived at White Hart Lane from Everton for £2m in January just a month after Khumalo landed from Pretoria’s SuperSports United for £1.5m.
But with a surfeit of central defenders at Spurs, Khumalo, 24, looks set to turn out next season on loan at Scottish champions Rangers, who have had a difficult preseason so far under new manager Ally McCoist.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp made the loan offer to Rangers last week and agent Glyn Binkin confirms: “I think it will be an excellent move for Bongani, because Rangers are a big club.”
Khumalo, who has yet to turn out for the Spurs first team, fractured a metatarsal in his foot after playing six “outstanding” games on loan for relegated Championship club Preston North End last season.
Binkin insists: “Bongani is focused on fully recovering and he should be back at full training by the end of this week.
“He will be keen on the loan deal, because he wants to play football and gain the experience. If the opportunity arises he will go. I think it will be an excellent move for him.”
Spurs kick-off the Vodacom Challenge against the Amakhosi on Saturday, July 16 in Polokwane before facing Bucsalona in Nelspruit on Tuesday, July 19.
The Chiefs and Pirates go head-to-head in Port Elizabeth on Thursday, July 21 and Spurs take on the winners of the Soweto derby in the final on Saturday, July 23 at Ellis Park.
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