Chelsea to play Malaysian select in July Asia tour

LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea will play a Malaysian all-star team in Kuala Lumpur in July as part of a two-match Asian tour, the English premier league club said on Thursday.

Chelsea's Chief Executive Peter Kenyon (R) and Deputy President of Football Association of Malaysia, Khairy Jamaluddin, pose with Chelsea's jersey during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur March 27, 2008. Chelsea plays against China tentatively on July 23 and against Malaysia on July 29. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad

The London club will play a side comprised of the best players from the Malaysian Super League on July 29 in the Malaysian capital, the club said in a statement.

Details of the second Asian match will be announced on Friday.

Chelsea said they were confident manager Avram Grant and defender Tal Ben-Haim, both Israeli, would be given special dispensation to enter Malaysia, which does not currently have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

“There are precedents and we do not anticipate any problems so we will continue the dialogue with the Malaysian Government, through our representatives, and they have been very welcoming and helpful thus far,” said chief executive Peter Kenyon, who pointed out that the Israeli cricket team were allowed to participate in the 1997 International Cricket Council Trophy.

The tour will be the first time Chelsea have played in Asia since May 2005 when their opponents were the Suwon Blue Wings, the K-League team owned by club sponsor Samsung.

They also took part in the Premier League Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur in the summer of 2003.

“I am delighted that we are coming to Asia where we have a lot of support and now we can give our fans in this region the opportunity to see us play,” Kenyon told at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.

“Asia is a very important region for world football. The development of football here is making great progress and a strong Asia can only be good for the game globally.

“I would like to thank the Asian Football Confederation and the Malaysian FA for their invitation to play here in Kuala Lumpur and we were obviously very happy to accept.”

Chelsea have been striving to develop a strong relationship with Asian soccer in recent years and have been involved in the launch of four of the planned 10 Vision China city leagues.

The club is also involved in a grass roots talent search in southern China.

Writing by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ossian Shine