Wenger and Rajagobal ‘exchange banter’ during press conference
KUALA LUMPUR (July 22, 2012): If the friendly banter between Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger and Malaysia’s supremo Datuk K. Rajagobal is anything to go buy, fans from both sides of the divide can expect fireworks when both sides lock horns at the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil on July 24.
The match may be a couple of days away, but the pursuit of bragging rights already began today when Wenger, in good humour, congratulated Rajagobal for managing to stay on as head coach of the team despite the 4-0 trouncing that the Gunners handed to the Malaysian XI when they played at the same venue last year.
“I would like to congratulate my counterpart for surviving and for still being in charge of the team even after the 4-0 loss last year,” he joked, drawing laughter from a 500-strong crowd during the press conference at the Saujana Hotel.
Responding with matched wit and sarcasm, Rajagobal quipped: “I’ve been involved with the national setup since 2004 actually. So, I must be good and doing something right for me to have been here all this time.”
On a more serious note, he added: “These matches are hard to come by. The game against Arsenal won’t be easy as they have top players. But this will be a good preparation for the upcoming Suzuki Cup challenge.”
Reflecting on last year’s 4-0 mauling by the Gunners, Rajagobal said fans could this time expect a much better and more polished performance from his charges, while emphasizing that the “team learnt a lot from their previous experience”.
“I admit that both the teams are on two different levels. My players and I are equally excited for yet another round because it’s always a new challenge. It’s going to be tough, obviously, but I’m confident that the team will be able to achieve the target we have set for ourselves – which is to go out, put on a good show and enjoy ourselves.”
More than 5,000 fans from all walks of life were at Saujana Hotel today to welcome the team. Among the crowd favourites were Wojciech Szcz?sny, Theo Walcott, Gervinho and Arsenal’s rising superstar Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who received one of the most rousing receptions from the Arsenal faithful.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, fondly known as “Chambo” among the fans, has joined the team fresh from the Euro 2012 tournament where he was one of England’s star performers.
The 18-year-old winger is already a fan favourite after impressing on many occasions when he pulled on the Arsenal jersey last season. Today, he was pleasantly surprised by the “overwhelming welcome” he received from the Malaysian Gunners.
“It was just a quick glimpse but I instantly knew that these guys were a passionate and loyal bunch. This is all a whole new experience for me … something very good to see,” said the youngster.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was not part of the Arsenal entourage last year, but he said that he was looking forward to be part of it this time after hearing many good things about Malaysia from his teammates.
Tickets for the match are priced at RM58, RM68, RM108 and limited VIP tickets at RM388. Tickets are available at all Ticketpro outlets nationwide, Ticketpro hotline 03-7880-7999 and www.ticketpro.com.my.
NOTE: Arsenal Training Session will be held on 23rd July 2012, 8.30PM at National Stadium, Bukit Jalil.
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