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Exeter holds key to United trip 16/12/04
Lowly-placed Nationwide Conference league side Exeter holds the key as to whether Manchester United will play Premier Soccer League side Orlando Pirates early next year.

The Red Devils face Exeter in a third round FA Cup clash on January 8, but should the match end in a draw, then the replay will take place on January 17 or 18, the same weekend Manchester United is said to be taking on Pirates at Ellis Park.

Ellis Park Stadium CEO George Stainton conceded that a press conference will be held on Monday to confirm the Pirates-United is on, but added that a FA Cup replay could scupper such a fixture.

"If there's a replay they can't come," Stainton was quoted by the Star.

"We just have to confirm a couple of things," added Stainton, one of which is that all these heroes do indeed make the trip to Johannesburg.

Stainton added that they were hoping United will bring a full-strength squad and will start with their strongest starting eleven.

However, manager Sir Alex Ferguson could want to settle for a mix of United first team players and fringe players coming out.

"We want the United first team," he said.

"Anything else would be an affront to us and we won't accept it. It's also not fair to Orlando Pirates. We don't want a situation like we had with Nigeria for the Mandela Challenge."

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