Jun 9, 2009

World Cup beyond Asia’s reach .. What About Malaysia !

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger says there is no chance of an Asian country winning the World Cup in South Africa next year. Wenger is in Kuala Lumpur as an ambassador for Castrol, who are one one of the main sponsors for the World Cup next year.

He said that although Asian footballing countries have made significant improvement in recent years, it would be almost impossible for them to be a real threat.

“Naturally, I will be at South Africa for the World Cup next year. The favourites for the Cup? Well, it would be the usual suspects. The main two contenders from Europe will be Spain and England. Spain have not even peaked yet but they won the Euro last year,” said Wenger, who did not think his native France were contenders.

“And England have a host of world class players among their ranks. Asia have no chance of winning the Cup next year. Sorry to say, but they simply do not possess enough quality to make a mark at such a prestigious football event.

“I don’t even think that the African countries are ready. I mean, they are good and all but not to lift the World Cup. If there is one country which would be able to spring a good surprise, it would be Ivory Coast. But even then, it is unlikely. It would be good though for the sake of football.”

Wenger will be conducting a coaching clinic for the Malaysian Under-19 team at Dataran Merdeka today. The French tactician will also be involved with a meet-the-fans session after training. It has been 10 years since Wenger last made a trip to Kuala Lumpur.

Prior to this, Wenger was down with the Arsenal team in 1999 when the Gunners played the Malaysian team at the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil. Arsenal fans, who are hoping to see their stars in action, may have to wait a long time more as Wenger reckoned that it would be very difficult to have an encore anytime soon.

“The last time we returned to England with some good memories of Malaysia. Unfortunately, to get the whole team to play here again would be extremely tough.

“During off season, the players are always busy with international commitments. So, a tour of Asia is usually out of the question. Unless the fans want us to come with the reserve team!” Wenger said with a laugh- Jonathan Fernandez - The Malay Mail


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