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Season 2009/10

Palatial setting for winter training

  • 16 July 2009 07:58
  • Posted byChris Bailey

Mark Hughes will take his City side to Abu Dhabi for warm weather training this winter.

The Blues will combine one of their stays with a much anticipated match against the United Arab Emirates’ national team.

The contest will take place at the imposing Zayed Stadium on Thursday, November 12.

And the fixture is already causing great excitement in Abu Dhabi home of City owner Sheikh Mansour.

City CEO Garry Cook today met with HE Rashid Zaabi, Chairman of the Marketing, Media and PR Committee of the UAE FA and HE Yousuf Abdullah, General Secretary of the UAE FA and in Abu Dhabi to sign one of several agreements.

“With a growing and enthusiastic fan base in the UAE, we look forward to a friendly in Abu Dhabi in November,” asserted Cook. “The Club feels an obvious kinship with the city, and this game is another way for us to interact with the community at a grassroots level.

“This fixture will also be a focal point of our winter training visit to Abu Dhabi during the November international break in the league season.”

HE Rashid Zaabi believes that the friendly will provide the perfect examination for his country’s emerging stars.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the national side and one that will provide a high calibre test for our squad,” he said.

To play an EPL side in the United Arab Emirates is not only exciting for the team, but for the local fans as well.

HE Rashid Zaabi

Those supporters will have the chance to see much more of the Blues big names because Abu Dhabi will provide a home from home from now on. One of the UAE capital’s most recognizable landmarks, The Emirates Palace, will be City’s official training HQ.

An international standard pitch is currently being developed in the grounds which will be finished by the end of October.

The intention is that during international breaks in the Premier League season City will use the Emirates Palace as a training base.

“We are proud to claim Emirates Palace – this first class facility and one of the most extraordinary hotels ever built – as our official winter training headquarters,” declared Cook during a brief stopover on the way to South Africa.

The hotel is equally pleased with the new arrangement. Manager Hans Olbertz said:

“Our partnership with Manchester City fits with the hotel’s mission to offer our clients exclusive and unique experiences. We are delighted to be the hosts of this now globally relevant club at key times throughout their training schedule.”

Cook team boss Hughes, and new players Carlos Tevez, Roque Santa Cruz, Gareth Barry, along with Player of the Season Stephen Ireland and former star winger Mike Summerbee, handed over the club’s new home kit – which launches on July 18 - and are scheduled to take part in activities with new sponsor Etihad before heading off to the Vodacom Challenge.

 “We are thrilled to be on the ground here in Abu Dhabi, launching the kit at a grass roots level,” stressed Cook. “We want to develop lifelong advocates for City by contributing to the local football culture and generating a network of loyal fans.

“We also hope to create ongoing local engagement with the club’s newly-revamped website, which features extensive Arabic content.”

The new-look Blues squad will don the 2009/10 Umbro designed kit  for the first time when they face the Orlando Pirates in South Africa on Saturday afternoon, a game that is being streamed live (and free) on and is being beamed back to the stadium.

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