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Arsenal set for Vietnam friendly tie

Arsenal is set to become the first English Premier League club to play a friendly match in Vietnam with a game in July during a pre-season tour of Asia, an official said yesterday.

Arsenal executives are currently in Hanoi meeting officials from the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) to negotiate a fixture against the national team, VFF spokesman Nguyen Lan Trung told AFP.

“The VFF and Arsenal Club have agreed to organise a friendly match at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on July 17,” he said, adding that no formal deal had yet been signed.

VFF said the match would be partly sponsored by Hoang Anh-Gia Lai – one of Vietnam’s largest private conglomerates which owns an eponymous team in the domestic V-league and runs a football academy in the Central Highlands, designed to prepare boys to play professionally in football-mad Vietnam and perhaps elsewhere in Asia or even Europe.

The company helped co-sponsor the 2011 BIDC Cup, played at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium, and its facility hosted the Cambodian national football team for a training camp in 2010. The Hoang Anh-Gia Lai academy has a partnership with Arsenal, where some graduates could potentially end up having trials. Arsenal send a manager to monitor students’ development once a year.

AFP, ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAN RILEY

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