Munich - VfB Stuttgart will be flying the flag for the Bundesliga for ten days in South Africa after jetting off to Cape Town for their mid-season training camp.
Thomas Schneider's men will prepare themselves for the in the southern hemisphere while on a mission to rally even more support for Germany's growing top league.
Visiting the country where Germany came so close to FIFA World Cup glory in 2010, Stuttgart are keen to tap in to the growing love of football in Africa's southernmost nation and win over more fans for themselves and the Bundesliga. Three friendly matches have also been arranged for the Swabians to learn where they are at in preparation for the second half of the season.
They will face Vasco da Gama from Brazil on 9 January, Dutch side PEC Zwolle (11 January) before concluding their trio of fixtures against Ajax Cape Town on 14 January. Two days later, they will return to Germany, hopefully having left a lasting impression on the local football fans, and ready to face the next four months which will determine the destiny of their season.
Greeted by Carnell
One of the potential stars of the trip, Guinea winger , had to stay behind in Germany after undergoing a knee surgery, but Arthur Boka, like nine-time goalscorer , is bound to be at the centre of attention. The Cote d'Ivoire left-back and the rest of the squad were welcomed by a familiar face, former VfB defender Bradley Carnell.
"It's not every day a Bundesliga club comes to Cape Town for a training camp," said the 36-year-old, who was born in Johannesburg and represented his country 42 times. "And they are my former club too. I still know a few people there and am delighted to see them again, and maybe I'll be able to show them a little of my home nation."
As well as getting to know as much as they can about South Africa, VfB's focus will be on getting themselves into perfect condition for the second half of the campaign. "We've got three weeks to work with the lads before the season's restart and it's going to be an exciting and intensive time," said coach Schneider. Stuttgart host 1. FSV Mainz 05 in their first competitive fixture of the new year on 25 January before facing league leaders FC Bayern München four days later.
You can follow Stuttgart's movements in South Africa via a dedicated Twitter channel set up by the Bundesliga club. @VfBafana will be Tweeting daily updates of their ten-day stay in Cape Town, and bundesliga.com will equally bring you all the information you need to know as the Swabians prepare for the second season-half.