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SA teams 'excellent' - Harry

Posted on 24 July 2011  - 12:00

Harry Redknapp spoke in glowing terms about the standard of football in South Africa as the squad returned to England with the Vodacom Challenge trophy on Sunday morning.

Harry Redknapp spoke in glowing terms about the standard of football in South Africa as the squad returned to England with the Vodacom Challenge trophy on Sunday morning.

Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates provided the perfect test for the players with three tough matches in the 10-day tour, concluding with the final at Ellis Park, Johannesburg.

Chiefs beat us 1-0 with an injury time goal in the opener in Polokwane and we then drew 1-1 with Pirates in Nelspruit before facing the PSL champions again in the final.

And the repeat of the 2007 final produced a repeat scoreline as we ran out 3-0 winners again.

Rafa van der Vaart curled home a second free-kick in as many games to open the scoring in the first half and then finished one-on-one from Benoit Assou-Ekotto's pass to double the lead in the second half.

Jermain Defoe rounded it off in style with a close-range volley from Gareth Bale's cross in the 87th minute.

"It was a good 10 days in South Africa," reflected Harry.

"We've had tough games, the opposition was excellent and that was the case again in the final.

"I was very impressed with the standard of the players and their technique, they are well-coached and well-organised. They play to a very high standard.

"Pirates are a good team, they play some fantastic football and gave us problems at times. We had to work hard to get the win."

Although delighted to win the tournament, Harry reiterated that there is only one target in pre-season - our Premier League opener against Everton at the Lane on August 13.

"It's a six-week pre-season and we have to make sure we're at our peak for the first game at home to Everton," he added. "That's what we're building towards.

"We're not there yet, but the players are getting fitter and this trip was all part of the process to get there."