Football: Arsenal to reprise Asian tour

KUALA LUMPUR - English football club Arsenal will return to Asia this summer for matches against local sides in Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong and a clash with Manchester City in Beijing, the club has announced.

The three-stop July tour follows a successful trip to Malaysia and China last summer that saw the club and its players greeted like rock stars in the two football-mad countries.

Arsene Wenger's in-form squad will hold an open training session in Kuala Lumpur on July 23 and a match the next night against a select squad of Malaysian League players, the club announced this week on its website.

Last July's training session in Malaysia was attended by more than 30,000 people.

The Gunners then travel to China to play Manchester City in Beijing on July 27, followed by a match in Hong Kong against local side Kitchee on July 29.

"We are delighted that our many loyal fans in Malaysia and neighbouring regions will again have the chance to see their team in action live," Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis said.

Arsenal have recently strengthened their grip on third place in the Premier League, winning nine of their last 10 in the league and strengthening their hopes of qualifying outright for next season's UEFA Champions League.

Top European clubs have increasingly courted Asia with high-profile exhibition tours through the region, keen to nurture a fan base and long-term market for shirts, memorabilia, tickets and in-house TV channels - and to help attract sponsors.

Last year, the tourists included Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester United and several other clubs.

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