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Man United will tour South Africa

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  • Manchester United will undertake a tour of South Africa during this summer
  • Manager Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to take a full-strength squad with him
  • Premier League giants also asked to play a 60th anniversary game in Israel
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MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester United have agreed to tour South Africa this summer and have also been asked to play a match in Israel to help mark the state's 60th anniversary celebrations.

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Ferguson will be taking a strong Manchester United squad over to South Africa this summer.

Although precise dates and venues for South Africa are yet to be publicised, it is believed United will repeat their successful trip of 2006, when they took on Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates, playing in Durban, Cape Town and Pretoria.

The Red Devils will be in South Africa from July 19 to 26, with virtually all Sir Alex Ferguson's first team squad set to be involved, including England stars such as Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand, who will miss out on Euro 2008.

"We really enjoyed our visit in 2006," said Ferguson. "The atmosphere in the stadium and the enthusiasm from the fans helped make for a great event. All the facilities were first class and I am looking forward to returning."

Confirmation of the trip means plenty of United's pre-season plans are already in place, with now-retired Ole Gunnar Solskjaer currently beginning the process of organising a testimonial, which is due to be played in August.

There is also the possibility United could visit Nigeria on their way back from South Africa, as they look to capitalise on their vast popularity in Africa.

United manager Alex Ferguson was asked to take his team to Israel during a meeting Thursday at Old Trafford with Israel's ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor.

"I formally invited Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United to visit Israel during the 60th anniversary," Prosor told The Associated Press. "I did not get a formal answer, but it seems very positive and I think we will try on both sides to get it to happen."

The defending Premier League champions would travel to Israel at the end of the European season in May, shortly after the anniversary, to play the Israeli national team.

Last June, Spanish champion Real Madrid played a mixed Israeli-Palestinian team in a charity match at Ramat Gan stadium.

Ferguson was presented with a formal invitation, which didn't specify the potential opponent, although the national team is the preferred choice.

Israel's soccer team has a free summer after failing to qualify for the 2008 European Championship. England also failed to qualify, meaning United stars Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand would likely be available for selection.

England was held 0-0 by Israel in the Euro 2008 qualifier in March in Tel Aviv.

United has never played in Israel. The team announced plans Thursday for a weeklong offseason trip to South Africa in July.

Later Thursday in Manchester, Prosor planned to hold talks with Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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