Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Kop Comes to Asia 2009 Liverpool Tour: Liverpool 1-1 Thailand

Liverpool Football Club continues their preseason preparations for the new season with a tour of Asia. The tour billed as "The Kop Comes to Asia" will see Rafa Benitez and his boys play friendly matches against Thailand national team (22nd July) and Singapore national team (26th July).
Nando "El Nino" Torres visting the King's Palace in Bangkok

During a press conference, Malaysia's The Sun has this report,

BANGKOK: Liverpool insist they are not just in Asia to cash in on the lucrative commercial opportunities the region offers, but to give their fanatical fans a chance to see them in the flesh.

The Reds arrived here on Monday, minus Steven Gerrard who is embroiled in a court case back home, to play Thailand today before jetting to Singapore for the second-leg of their Southeast Asian visit.

Clubs in the past, notably Real Madrid, have been criticised for planning worldwide tours purely for the financial reward.

But Liverpool commercial director Ian Ayre insists his team want to leave behind a legacy.

“We have a duty to contribute to these football markets and to our supporters over here,” he said on the club website.

“We have in place a strong legacy programme encompassing many different initiatives and which can be broken down into different areas.

“For example, we have a knowledge transfer programme at which Rafa will meet coaches from Thailand and Singapore, I will be meeting representatives from the local businesses and the medical team will also be having sessions.

“We will be running a kids programme with open training sessions to try and show people what we do and how we do it.

“The important thing is that when our plane lands back in Liverpool there will still be things going on in our name over here which we can continue to support.”

As with Manchester United who are currently in South Korea, Liverpool has a huge fan following in South East Asia and Asia in general. APAC accounts for one-third of the number of internet visits for Liverpool and Manchester United news are extraordinary from Asia.

Fast forward to the friendly match between Thailand national team and Liverpool.

Bangkok's Rajamangala Stadium is packed with 70,000 eager fans thrilled at the chance to see their Liverpool heroes.

Ryan Babel scored Liverpool's first goal of the pre-season as the Reds were held to a 1-1 draw by the Thailand national team. The Dutchman scored with a neat first-half finish and the Reds looked to have held on until Panupong Sutee stunned Rafael Benitez's men with a late equaliser.

The young forward was a threat throughout, almost doubling his tally on 12 minutes, but this time the Thai stopper denied him with a fine save with his feet. Krisztian Nemeth could not produce an end result after he had tricked his way past two defenders.

As with the other two matches, Benitez made wholesale changes to the team, with only Babel returning for the second half. After a period of forgettable football, the hosts stunned Liverpool with a well-taken equaliser from Sutee on 71st minute.

The Thai forward showed a cool head to slot the ball past Peter Gulacsi after he had created the opening with a brilliant one-two. Albert Riera, Pepe Reina, Alvaro Arbeloa and Fernando Torres all came on late in the match. Torres immediately made his presence felt by delivering a through ball to Andriy Voronin who puts the ball wide. Voronin still does not look comfortable in the red of Liverpool.

A disappointing game given the fact that Manchester United's Malaysian stop-over and match were highly entertaining stuff. Let's hope the Singapore friendly will be a whole new ball game.

1 comment:

wllmhll said...

a club like liverpool already has a legacy in asia, and its good that they come to that region once in awhile especially for the fans who cant watch them at anfield.

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