As that stadium near Neasden inches its way towards completion the world’s top soccer nations still can’t resist the draw of the capital. If you’re Welsh or just interested in watching four teams from this summer’s world cup on your doorstep then the next few weeks will be very appealing.
First up are two teams who surpassed expectations in Germany. Ghana play host to Togo at Griffin Park, Brentford this Tuesday night giving West Ham fans their first chance to see new defender John Paintsil in action. Chelsea’s Michael Essien and Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor are also likely to feature as the Togolese prepare for the qualifying tournament for the 2008 African Cup of Nations, the finals of which will be held in Ghana. The Gunners are also interested in Ghana defender Shila Illiasu who has recently been on trial with them, but a dispute over the player's registration has put any move in doubt. Some parts of the ground appear to be closed for the match, but tickets are still available.
Then early next month former QPR director Dunga leads his new charges, Brazil, in a whirlwind tour of North London beginning with a potential humdinger against Argentina to be played at Arsenal’s new Emirates Stadium on Sunday September 4th. As we noted recently, however, unless you’re an Arsenal member you’re only likely to able to watch the clash on television. If there are any tickets remaining they’ll go on general sale on Tuesday August 22nd.
Nimbly avoiding accusations of basis, the Brazilians move on two days later to face the somewhat bemused Welsh at White Hart Lane. Some reports suggest that the game was originally mooted for Stamford Bridge until it became clear that Nike’s flagship side would be playing in a stadium pretty much devoted to Adidas. Tottenham themselves also seem to have been taken a bit by surprise as ticket details are not yet available.
Apparently, the English FA only agreed to Brazil’s two matches taking place as it so happened that all its own major sides were out of town that week. Some managers are also said to be less than pleased at the late addition to the calendar of the Wales game in particular. Philippe Huber, joint chief executive of Kentaro, the organisers of the tour, explained to the Guardian why matches like Argentina against Brazil should be happening here in the first place:
London was about the only place it would work, with a stadium with the capacity of the Emirates which could command relatively high ticket prices.
Standard adult tickets for the all South American matchup are priced between £35 and £90.
Picture of Ghanaian fans celebrating in Berlin via StewieD's rather excellent Flickr stream.