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End-of-season tour

Double winners Bayern set off for Asia

With the fervent celebrations marking a sixth domestic double now out of the way, Bayern have entered the final phase of the 2007-8 season. Around half the first-team squad has begun the process of joining up with national teams ahead of this summer's Euro 2008 and a round of vital World Cup qualifiers. The rest of the Munich stars, led by captain Oliver Kahn and experienced duo Mark van Bommel and Zé Roberto, set off on Monday morning for a nine-day trip to Asia.

"I'm looking forward to a wonderful tour," commented Ottmar Hitzfeld ahead of a 37-strong Bayern delegation's departure for Jakarta, the first of three stops on the tour, and where the Bavarians take on the Indonesian national team on Wednesday at midday CET. The party then travels via Bali to Calcutta, where Mohun Bagan AC, Asia's oldest football club, provide the opposition at 2.30 pm CET on 27 May .

China visit postponed

"It's a great way to end the season, we'll really enjoy the nine days," continued Hitzfeld ahead of his final official duties as head coach at the club. The original tour plan envisaged the party travelling on from Jakarta to Guangzhou for the Allianz Cup return against the Chinese Olympic football team. However, the Chinese authorities postponed the match for organisational reasons, allowing the Bayern party a three-day spell on Bali instead.

"There's a great atmosphere already and we'll have a lot of fun," Van Bommel commented before take-off. "It's just a shame we don't have the whole squad here," the Dutch ace added. Eight U-19 players have joined the eleven first-team squad members on the tour. The FCB delegation is headed up by board director and general manager Uli Hoeneß.

Building the Bayern brand

The reasons for the post-season tour are twofold. On the one hand, it is an opportunity for the players to wind down after a long and arduous but ultimately highly successful campaign, and on the other, the tour has a promotional function for the FC Bayern brand in particular and the German Bundesliga in general, as part of a profile-building drive in the Asian market.

The highlight of the trip will undoubtedly be the match at the 120,000 capacity Salt Lake stadium in Calcutta, the second-largest sports arena in the world, where Kahn will contest his final match as a professional. "I have lots of fans there," the keeper commented, "I'm curious about the climate, it's said to be quite extreme."

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