Arsenal, one of top clubs in the English Premier League will play a friendly match against a selection of the Malaysian national team tonight, at 8:45pm Cambodian time at Bukit Jalil National Stadium in the south of Kuala Lumpur.
It’s the first step of a three-match Asian pre-season tour of Arsenal before heading to China to face Manchester City on Friday, and to meet Kitchee SC in Hong Kong on Sunday.
On Sunday, hundreds of local fans alongside some fans from Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore waited for many hours before the arrival of their heroes at Saujana Hotel, where the Arsenal squad is staying.
The team bus arrived at the hotel around 3pm. The fans cheered and chanted while the players got off the bus. Many tried to stop their heroes for autographs.
“Arsenal till I die”, “Once a Gooner, always a Gooner” and other signs in English and Malay demonstrated the loyalty of the local fans showing their love for the London club. Arsene Wenger and his 24 players were always smiling at the warmly welcome.
The press conference was set up at 4pm as the fans waited and cheered outside the conference room.
Arsene Wenger accompanied by midfielder Alex Chamberlain and Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny were at the press conference with representatives of the Football Association of Malaysia, sponsors and organisers.
Most of the questions were directed towards the Arsenal manager. For the second consecutive trip to Malaysia, the Frenchman said: “We are here firstly to share with you the way we see and play.
Secondly, to prepare a season that we hope will be very successful and thirdly to test Malaysia team, who promise us a hard time.”
For the question about Captain Robin van Persie, Wenger said that he is a world class striker. “You know I am a big supporter of him. Our desire is to keep him. We will do what is in the best interest of the club” he said.
Robin van Persie and some key players like the newly signed Lukas Podolski are not on the squad for the 2012 Asia Tour.
The squad of 24 players are: Vito Mannone, Ignasi Miquel, Chuks Aneke, Thomas Eisfeld, Marouane Chamakh, Ryo Miyaichi, Craig Eastmond, Nico Yennaris, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Francis Coquelin, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Song, Lukasz Fabianski, Carl Jenkinson, Theo Walcott, Wojciech Szczesny, Johan Djourou, Benik Afobe, Thomas Vermaelen, Abou Diaby, Andre Santos, Gervinho, Mikel Arteta and Kyle Bartley.
Datuk K Rajagobal, head coach of Malaysia national team, who sat next to Wenger said that he used this friendly match for the preparation of the upcoming AFC Suzukip Cup in November.
“I definitely want my team to produce a better performance than last year [they lost 4-0 to Arsenal]. We should take this opportunity to show our best as we are not often to play against a world class club,” Rajagobal told the news conference.
The two Arsenal players who were at the press conference promised to try their best for the club and they showed their joy for their presence in Asia, especially in Malaysia.
Ung Chamroeun's trip to watch the Arsenal Asia Tour in Kuala Lumpur is made possible by NagaWorld Cambodia and also ProEvents Group.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ung Chamroeun at [email protected]