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Japan tour

Bayern face stern challenge in Tokyo

Some 10,000 kilometres, a 12-hour flight and a seven-hour time difference separate Munich and Tokyo - "it's definitely stressful," acknowledged Uli Hoeneß ahead of Bayern's 75-hour round trip to Japan. However, the club is only too happy to make allowances for the wearying travel if it involves paying a visit to partner club Urawa Red Diamonds. Germany's leading club thus took off on Tuesday for the Land of the Rising Sun for the third time since 2005.

"If you decide you want to be a global player, you do occasionally have to travel to where the global opponents are," commented Hoeneß, head of the 39-strong Bayern delegation. In terms of the playing staff, the party is without the injured Franck Ribéry, Luca Toni, Tim Borowski, Martin Demichelis and Hans Jörg Butt, while José Ernesto Sosa and Breno are away on Olympic duty. Promising reserves Mehmet Ekici and Thomas Müller boarded the plane operated by FCB partner Lufthansa instead.

Penultimate test

The trip was admittedly "not exactly ideal from a timing point of view," Jürgen Klinsmann advised, but the key thing was to make the best of the situation. "We're very respectful of our partnership with Urawa Red Diamonds," continued Klinsmann, "the date for this trip was fixed more than a year ago, and no-one was exactly sure of how the training schedule would look following the European championships.“

The head coach will be happy that the trip does at least include a serious sporting challenge. On Thursday (12.30 pm CET), Urawa Red Diamonds host Bayern in the Munich club's penultimate warm-up before the first competitive fixture of the new campaign, a DFB German Cupfirst round tie away to Rot-Weiß Erfurt ten days later. "The Japanese are in the middle of their season and will be in good shape. They're also one of the best club sides in Asia," Klinsmann commented.

No major jetlag issues

The Red Diamonds, who are coached by German national Gert Engels and currently lie second in the J-League, finished runners-up in the domestic championship last term and triumphed in the Asian Champions League. "They'll be totally fired up," Hoeneß reckoned, sensing that the match in Tokyo would be a genuine test of Bayern's credentials ahead of the 2008-9 campaign.

Apart from the match against the Japanese partner club, Bayernwill also train and attend a kids' football tournament. After two nights in Tokyo, the party returns to Munich on Friday. The trip had delibertately been kept as short as possible, Hoeneß revealed. "We won't have any major problems with jetlag.“ The manager knows what he is talking about, as it is after all hardly the club's first voyage to Japan.