Reds to kick off season's preps in Jakarta
The Jakarta Post
Liverpool FC has added to the list of elite Europe-based clubs coming for a tour of Indonesia as part of their pre-season preparations.
'I'm honored and delighted to announce that we are coming to Indonesia for the first time,' Liverpool chief media officer Matthew Baxter told a media conference on Thursday.
The European giant, which has won 18 English league titles and five European trophies, but has experienced a dip in form in recent years, is scheduled to arrive in Jakarta on July 16 and play a friendly game with a national team called Indonesia XI, on July 20 at Bung Karno Stadium.
Jakarta will be the starting ground in the club's pre-season tour which also encompasses trips to Melbourne and Bangkok.
Another English club Arsenal has also unveiled its Jakarta visit planned for July. Other Clubs, like German Hamburg SV and Italian AS Roma were reported to be interested in making Jakarta a stop in May while a Dutch national team is arriving in early June.
Indonesia is said to be home to some 1.2 million Liverpool fans, which accounts for a major portion of the club's reported 130 million fans globally.
Fajar Nugraha, who heads Indonesia's Liverpool fan club BigReds, said that he was keen to make the Liverpool visit a success.
'I will try to lobby the organizers to have discounted tickets for the club's members,' he said. Tickets will be on sale from May 11.
Baxter described Indonesian Liverpool fans as incredible and passionate.
'I'm happy to bring the team to Jakarta to engage with the fans,' he said.
Djohar Arifin, the chairman of the Indonesian Soccer Association (PSSI), expressed his enthusiasm for the visit.
'This is my dream and I think it's the dream of Indonesian people that we get a big team here in Jakarta. We can get benefit from their tour,' he said.
'They [Liverpool] will arrive as early as July 16. They are coming not only to play a friendly game but to make Indonesia a training ground.
Although the visit will coincide with the Muslim fasting season of Ramadan, he said he believed the fans would not lack enthusiasm.
Liverpool's 18 league trophies is second only to Manchester United's 20. However, Liverpool's last trophy dates as far back as 1989, which rounded off the golden era of the club steered by one of its stars Ian Rush. Since then, the club has only managed to finish second three times; to Arsenal in 1990 and 2001, and United in 2008.
This season, under Brendan Rodgers, who has been in his coaching role less than a year, the club is languishing in seventh place behind crosstown rival Everton.
In the remaining four matches in the league, it may hope to claw its way up the standings but this prospect has been dealt a blow with the suspension of striker Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan has been handed a 10-match ban by the international soccer association FIFA for biting Branislav Ivanovic during the premier league match on April 21 against Chelsea.
Rush, who currently holds the role of Liverpool global ambassador, confirmed that the team would bring all its best players including Suarez.
'For me, Suarez is a fantastic player. And I can assure you he will be with the team in Jakarta,' he said.
He offered his compliments to the zealousness of Indonesian fans. 'I have been in Indonesia three, four times. The fans are very passionate.'
Through a video message direct to supporters via the club's official tour website ' lfctour.com ' Rodgers said he looked forward to the tour.
'We've never played in Indonesia before, so we're all very excited and I'm very excited to be able to bring all of the players and the football club to you, our great fans. See you in Jakarta.'
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