Swallows to face Anelka
Nicolas Anelka (AFP Photo)
Johannesburg - Moroka Swallows will play Shanghai Shenhua, one of the big spenders in world soccer, in a four-team tournament in China, next week.
The Birds might not have been rewarded with the Premiership title after battling with Orlando Pirates until the last soccer fixture of the season, but they did produce a striking turnaround in fortunes to finish as championship runners-up under coach Gordon Igesund.
They should receive a substantial financial reward when they play Shenhua.
Among Swallows' opponents in the line-up will be temperamental former French international Nicolas Anelka, who earns about R10 million a month in his own right.
Shenhua are reported to be offering an even more staggering amount to Chelsea's European Champions League hero Didier Drogba, who is leaving the English side.
"Playing against a side in the limelight of world football will be a wonderful boost for Swallows," said Igesund.
"It is designed for us to share in the limelight surrounding the Shanghai club.
"Imagine the publicity if we beat Shenhua? The news will reverberate round the soccer world."
He said Shenhua were also trying to sign former Argentina's World Cup coach Sergio Batista.
Anelka has acted as a player-coach since former coach Jean Tigana was sacked three months ago, but with limited success in the dual role.
Igesund said the far east experience would benefit his players, as the Soweto outfit tries to restore their former glory.
Swallows leave for China on Monday, with fixtures against Shenxin Shanghai next Friday, and Shenhua on Sunday.
The fourth team participating in the tournament is France's Evian FC.
The Birds are expected to be at full strength apart from the absence of top scorer Siyabonga Nomvethe, who has been called up for Bafana Bafana duty.