Eagles boss Alan Pardew has been pleased with the welcome his squad have received during their first 24 hours in South Africa, but has his eyes firmly fixed on winning the Cape Town Cup.
The Palace boss was present for the official press conference which saw all four managers and captains present to unveil the tournament trophy, and it’s one that Pardew hopes can be added to the trophy cabinet at Selhurst Park after this weekend.
The Eagles take on Supersport United in the opening game on Friday afternoon with the winner of that facing the victor of Sporting Lisbon or Ajax Cape Town in Sunday’s final, and Pardew admits that he is excited about the competition.
“We’re looking forward to this tournament, it’s a test for us but it’s an honour to be here,” he said.
“It’s my first time in South Africa and so far it’s been a very pleasant and welcoming experience and we’ve had a great reception here.
“If we were in the Championship like we were two years ago then we wouldn’t be here so we’ve made great strides and we want to show people in South Africa and Cape Town in particular what a strong side we are.
“I’m expecting it to be a tough tournament for us because we’re not quite up to speed but we’ve brought everybody here and we want to try and win the competition. It’ll be good for us to gauge ourselves against top South African opposition and obviously Sporting Lisbon are a good side if they get to the final.
“We hope to beat Supersport and then win the final. We’re paid to win and that’s what we’re going to try and do.”
As well as aiming to lift the trophy, Pardew wants his side to show the South African fans the attractive football the side displayed towards the end of last season as he eyes to win over new supporters as well as get his team purring again just before the big kick-off on 8th August against Norwich City.
He continued: “We’re an exciting team to watch so hopefully we’ll bring that to the tournament. It’s a little bit too early for us yet but we should be at a good level.
“The stadium and the pitch is marvellous and the groundsmen have done a fantastic job so we’ve got nothing to worry about there, it’s as good as the Premier League. They’re conditions for us to showcase the talent that we have and we want to do honour to the tournament by playing as well as we can.”
As well as the two games and frequent training sessions, Pardew also hopes to squeeze in a spot of sightseeing for his squad whom he hopes will gel on and off the pitch during this trip to help give them an extra edge going into a new season.
“It’s a beautiful city; we’ve not really seen too much of it though so hopefully we’ll get to see a bit more,” he said. “I was expecting the weather to be a little bit warmer but it’s perfect for us because it means we can train hard.”