No Makelele (off to PSG), no Drogba but the likes of Luiz Felipe Scolari, John Terry and Frank Lampard will be descending upon our shores for a second time as part of the Chelsea entourage for the friendly against Malaysia at the Shah Alam Stadium on July 29.
Scolari was here previously in 2002, where he stayed at the Palace of Golden Horses with the Brazilian team on transit to their fifth title at Asia's first World Cup in Korea/Japan. Brazilian journalists told me Scolari liked to discuss tactics with his assistant Antonio Lopes while brisk walking.
They did just that at the National Sports Institute warm-up track while Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka and Co were doing the samba at NSC's Padang C.
A year later Terry and Lampard formed the Chelsea line-up that beat Malaysia 4-1 in the FAPL Cup. That was the game that saw Hairuddin Omar, son of a fisherman in Besut, outjump Terry to nod in the first and only goal for ex-Chelsea Allan Harris' men five minutes before the break. Lampard had opened the scoring in the 36th minute.
Since then a lot has happened. Even adidas (Malaysia and Singapore) managing director Darren Choy (below right, flanked by his lieutenant, sports marketing manager Dunstan Cheng), a diehard Liverpool fan, has no qualms wearing the new Chelsea kit.
P/S - Anelka or Bilal is looking forward to his third trip to Kuala Lumpur, as he was a member of the French Under-20 side that fell to Uruguay in the 1997 World Youth Cup and two years later he did not utter a single word as I chased him to get a few quotes as he was about to board the bus after the 1999 friendly between Arsenal and Malaysia.
Oh...tickets can be bought online at www.ticketpro.com.my. Still got time!