Created on 30-07-2008 at 00:00 AM
Bayern are in Japan to play partner club Urawa Red Diamonds for the third year in succession. The Munich party spent their first day in Tokyo fulfilling a varied and interesting series of appointments, including training, greeting fans, supervising a tournament, and staging a special celebration for the coach’s birthday.
Bayern’s first day in Tokyo:
10.15 am (local time): After an eleven-hour flight but little sleep for most of the Bayern party, the plane from Munich lands ahead of time at Tokyo’s Narita airport. The weather is sunny, the temperature 30 degrees Celsius, and the air is surprisingly fresh. Some 70 Japanese fans have gathered at the airport to welcome the FCB stars. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Jürgen Klinsmann are the most prized targets for the autograph hunters.
12.45 pm: The players make a first acquaintance with Tokyo’s gridlocked road system on the 75-minute journey to their hotel, where another group of fans awaits the arrival of their heroes. After a light lunch of salmon, turkey, spaghetti and salad, the players are permitted a brief rest to catch up an hour or so’s sleep.
3.35 pm: The party leaves for the Saitama stadium and the first official appointment. The bus needs 45 minutes to reach the World Cup stadium on the outskirts of the city.
4.20 pm: 100 autograph-hungry fans are waiting as the team arrive at the stadium, with another 300 excited locals arrayed alongside an adjacent practice pitch. Sixty-four kids are to take part in a youth tournament supervised by the stars. Each of the eight junior teams receives help from two FCB pros, although the Munich men are not allowed to score. The final features the Marcell Jansen/Zè Roberto team versus the Michael Rensing/Hamit Altintop side. Marcell and Ze’s lads win 2-1 on penalties, but the kids are the real winners. What’s more, Jürgen Klinsmann and his coaching staff have picked the six best players of the tournament, who will now travel to watch the Bundesliga opener between Bayern and Hamburger SV, and will spend a week at the FCB academy at Europapark Rust.
5.50 pm: The real work starts for the Munich pros. Watched by a goodly crowd, the squad prepares for Thursday’s friendly against Urawa Red Diamonds. Klinsmann orders exercises centred on high-tempo passing, followed by crossing and shooting practice. The players head for the showers after 75 minutes.
8.45 pm: To mark Klinsmann’s birthday, the club has selected a special restaurant for dinner, the Roppongi Hills Club on the 51st floor of Mori Towers. The party enjoys the panoramic night skyline over sushi, roast beef and chicken. The entire delegation sings Happy Birthday, before the newly 44-year-old Klinsmann is surprised with a mix of German and Japanese customs. Cutting a birthday cake is the easy part, but Klinsmann, sporting a traditional Japanese Happy Coat, also easily masters the tapping of a keg of Sake.
10 pm: Tired but in good spirits, the party leaves Mori Towers and returns to their hotel. Despite a thrilling day, most are relieved when they fall into bed. Thursday’s meeting with Urawa will be the highlight of the trip, when the men from Munich are determined to give another good account of themselves.